I don’t camp.
I take “I don’t camp” to the point that, when I called my Mom at the tender age of 19, and announced a new hobby (living history, which does involve some amount of canvas typically), she listened to my excited ramble for several minutes, and then interrupted with, “Hang on… camping? Who are you, and what have you done with my daughter?” And she was serious.
My last “voluntary” (as in, I actually got in the vehicle and went to The Nature) camping trip happened at the age of 12. It was the 4th of July, and our whole family (headed by Mom, who loves camping, and Dad, who… well, let’s just say my aversion is genetic) moseyed up the canyon to Bear Creek for a weekend of Fun in The Nature. Dad and the boys set up the tents: one large wall tent for Mom, Dad, and the Little Kids, and a small pup tent for the two brothers just younger than I. No tent space was needed for Yours Truly. Even if we were camping, I was not about to SLEEP in The Nature. That sort of thing is just not safe, you know. There are bugs. And dirt. And bugs. So, I slept in the back of van instead. But I was “Camping.” I was brave.
The afternoon and evening were actually rather okay. I had a new sweatshirt, and jeans, and good shoes, and a hat, plus sunscreen and bug spray and my toothbrush, so I felt reasonably protected from The Nature, and had a good time exploring with my siblings. Dinner was good (chili!). We had roasted marshmallows for dessert and everything.
And then, in the middle of the night, the Galactic Demiurges who control the weather thought they’d play a bit of merry cob with Dad and I. First, it began to rain. It rained in solid sheets, and my brother’s pup tent, having no floor, quickly became a lovely sheltered creek. The boys rapped on the van door, and took up their soggy places in the middle seats of the van, cleverly looking so pathetic and drenched that I gave up a blanket so they could get warm, and endured the damp puppy smell common to all boys, no matter how freshly bathed.
At some point in the pre-dawn hours, those weather sprites decided that merely dumping precipitation was not enough: they dropped the temperature, and it began to snow.
Yes, snow. Life in the higher altitudes is unpredictable, even in July.
About five in the morning, the back of the van popped open, and I found my father, looking quite as cross as I felt myself. He said, very abruptly, “That’s it. We’re going home.” He bundled the little kids into the van, and collapsed the tent with sleeping bags and pillows still in it, folding it in rough quarters and shoving it into the back of the van. We were headed home within ten minutes. The snow melted by noon, and we enjoyed fireworks and mild weather that night.
That’s a pretty good example of my experience with “camping.” You can possibly understand why I’m not too keen on The Nature. I like camping in theory, but practical realities have proven a different kettle of cats.
However, I have a husband and children who think nothing of sleeping out of doors. Most summers, my kids set up tents and trade off having “My Own Room” in the back yard, sleeping out for weeks at a time. It’s not Meager Wilderness Camping, either: they take out tarps and rugs, and their real mattresses (hence the tarps), real bedding, a bedside table with LED lantern, books, framed pictures, a chair, throw-pillows, and small box for snacks. Since there’s indoor plumbing (for most–I have a sneaking suspicion my son doesn’t bother to trot into the house in the middle of the night for liquid situations), that’s the sort of “glamping” I can get behind.
I can support Cabinning, too: heading to my grandfathers little cabin in the Strawberry Range.
But the question remains: will I be brave, will I be bold this summer? With our drought, I suppose me going camping could be considered an act of charity and compassion, because it will likely snow, and we could sure use the precipitation.
I think I’m obligated to camp, at least once, this summer; risking exposure to The Nature, because this is not just for me, or even for my kids. With my “gifts” in the mix, I’ll be camping for all of you. For humanity.
(Or, at least, if I tell myself that, over and over, I might be able to really shock and surprise my family. Hey… whatever works.)
(And if you hear of a freak snowstorm in the Rockies in the coming weeks, you’ll know from whence it came.)