What happens while camping stays on the campground…but hopefully, that’s not your body. To leave the modern world behind for a few days is a gift that no app on your smartphone can touch—not even Instagram. Here, you are King and Queen—nomad, adventurer, and head Chef. But please don’t forget the TP.
Pack it up, pack it in, now let us begin. We’re going camping!
Leave your dental woes and work-related concerns behind and say Sayonara to your polite next-door neighbors; we’re off to the Great Outdoors.
Ahh, the liberating feeling of getting off the grid and stepping onto the grass and dirt, being one with nature. Serenity.
That is until you realize that the family next to your campsite has four dogs and two two-year-old’s. Or you get a group of college kids whose main priority for the evening is a contest who can fart the loudest, drink the most, or take the biggest bong rip and hold it in for as long as they can. Hopefully, they don’t convince you to join their fight club.
Despite these probabilities, you also have the chance of nagging a campsite with nobody around but ashes in the firepit and a lone rusty-red pickup truck that circles around and around forcing you to consider one of two options: What weapons you have for self-defense and how soon you can pack up and get the Hell out of Dodge.
With the off chance that you might encounter aliens or Sasquatch, camping is a safe and wholesome experience for individuals, friends, and families.
The Essential Camping List
When it comes to having a fun, stress-free experience it all hinges on some variables:
• Did you bring flashlight?
• How much Toilet Paper did you pack?
• Did you bring EVERYTHING you need?
• Are there electrical outlets?
• Do you have data service?
• Did you bring a knife or gun (and body bag or shovel)?
Be sure to get the right flashlight. No need to impress the gas station attendant this time.
When Nature Calls and you’re away from an outhouse or Portopotty, you don’t want to use a corncob or stone in your sacred cave. You’re not desperate, are you? You need to keep pace with modern society and hold your head high with dignity when you return to the campsite. Sure, Mother Nature provides a plethora of tools like leaves, clay, and sticks. But your butt deserves better. Pack the good stuff and lots of it. Besides, that Chicken Dumpling meal you bought from R.E.I. might come out like a cascade shower of molten lava and swamp water. Be prepared.
Did You Bring EVERYTHING You Need?
I know you want the cats, the Bluetooth speaker, and the 12-set collection of X-rated Romance novels, but let’s discuss the essentials. When it’s time to eat the morning cereal, a fork is not gonna spoon it. And slicing up a juicy piece of campfire cooked meat is not gonna cut it with a plastic spork or spoon. Just like Santa, make a list and check it twice. Don’t worry about being naughty or nice—make sure you can find everything you packed. Having to unpack every piece of gear to find the flashlight or your condoms at 2:12 a.m. is going to put someone out of the mood by the time you find it. If you can, make a list of everything you packed and mark what bag it’s in. If this is too much for you, go rouge; but keep your knife close and loved ones closer.
IF you have a campsite with electricity, then you’re cheating and might as well book a room at a Motel 6. Save the torches and pitchforks people; it’s a joke. Electricity is Mother’s milk to the modern camping experience. You can charge your phone, hook up lights, heck—hire a DJ, invite the whole campground, and broadcast the thing on Facebook Live! If that’s too much, then you can at least play a little music, do the Shuffle Boogie Soul, take a bunch of photos and upload them to Social Media to rub it in your friend’s faces that your CAMPING and they’re NOT! But that wholesome and trivial nonsense depends on ONE thing…
Just as Cash is King at restaurants, Data is Queen during camping. If you want to text your family members who are scattered around the campground, or the neighborhood kid feeding your cats, or Beverly (whoever she might be), then with a few bars of data you can. On the off chance you are without your data, practice your knife skills, bird calls, and learn how to hunt and skin an animal to prepare it for dinner. Also, use the blood of the animal as makeup on your face, create spears, and delineate the line between you and other campers’ property with skulls on poles. No joke, this is necessary when you have no data. Take your secrets to the grave and clean up when you’re done. Go back home and be a good neighbor and always wave when taking out the trash.
Worry less about the Bears and Mountain Lions and worry more about that stereotypical “guy” in the rusty red pickup truck. Or the random wanderer that preys on campers to survive. Sure, the media might refer to the guy as a “survivalist,” but we all know he’s just a homeless scavenger seeking to prey on innocent people with jobs. Protect yourself. There’s no reason to be too afraid, considering that the Forest Rangers in their SUVs with brighter light beams than God are doing their jobs—but still; bring a weapon. A pocket knife will do—a larger and sharper knife will do better. A body bag and shovel are optional but may come in handy. And if you get attacked by a Bear and it’s not Smoky, I’m sorry—please burn after reading.
All is Well
Camping is a change of scenery for tired eyes. It’s humbling too. Realizing that your girlfriend, wife, son, work buddy Dwight, daughter, or daughter’s boyfriend knows better than you about setting up the tent and working the poles is a lesson in humility.
And the feeling of a torrential storm hitting your tent while praying to the Heaven’s that the spikes will hold, and you don’t die while embracing your loved ones, brings you closer together; especially afterward when the sky opens up and reveals a dazzling array of stars that shimmer beyond description.
You came, you saw, you camped, you survived. And hopefully, you laughed.