Camping to some conjures up cold wet weather, mud and lack of toilet facilities. But what is it that makes some of us look at camping as an enjoyable pursuit?
Lets first look at the definition:
World English Dictionary
camp 1 (kæmp)
1. a place where tents, cabins, or other temporary structures are erected for the use of military troops, for training soldiers, etc
2. the military life
3. tents, cabins, etc, used as temporary lodgings by a group of travellers, holiday-makers, Scouts, etc
4. the group of people living in such lodgings
5. ( South African ) a field or paddock fenced off as pasture
6. a group supporting a given doctrine or theory: the socialist camp
7. ( Austral ) a place where sheep or cattle gather to rest
8. ( modifier ) suitable for use in temporary quarters, on holiday, etc, esp by being portable and easy to set up: a camp bed ; a camp chair
— vb (often followed by down ) (often followed by out )
9. to establish or set up a camp
10. to live temporarily in or as if in a tent
11. ( tr ) to put in a camp
[C16: from Old French, ultimately from Latin campus field]
“Through the hardships in life we pull together and form lasting bonds”
So we are basically saying a temporary lodging in a field where animals graze. Of course it’s much more than this. Remove the soft edges of life where everything is hand delivered and pre-wrapped and available at the press of a button and swap it for the rough edges of life. In camping we return to a state of dependency on each other, to a state of trust. Through the hardships in life we pull together and form lasting bonds. We are rewarded after a day of challenges with the warmth and amber glow of an open fire. To look up and see the heavens above us stretch majestically across the black night sky. To share a simple smile with a loved one knowing we haven’t a care in the world at that moment in time. Through these experiences we take away lasting memories of people and places.
Children find camping exhilarating. okay, they may not be partaking in extreme camping but to a child sleeping outside is a great adventure in itself . They are no longer restrained by social conformity and being able to see further than the next rooftop on the sky line they can explore, discover and expand their views on the world around them, even their imaginations, without the use of the internet. I ask my children what their fondest memory is. They always answer by talking excitedly about camping with a pre cursor of “Do you remember when…..”. Their faces grinning from ear to ear. As a father it makes my time with them and any rough edges of life endured while camping worth that little extra effort.
“an apocalyptic scene for the senses”
Of course, weather can turn for the worse as I have experienced in the past (see my previous article), but when I first took my children camping we had thunder and lightning. It was scary at the time as the thunder sounds closer as it echoes around the hill side and the lightning can be disorienting for a second or so. The lantern swinging too and fro and the canvas of the tent flexing and relaxing in the wind almost creating an apocalyptic scene for the senses as the sound becomes deafening . I was convinced as we awoke the next day to glorious sunshine that it was the end of camping for the children. That the experience may have traumatized them somehow. It had in fact strengthened their resolve in camping. Why? It was an adventure. “Like being on a pirate ship in a storm”. said my youngest daughter. I think we underestimate the robustness of children wrapping them in cotton wool when all along they crave adventure as much as we do.
So when you think of camping I urge you to look past the mud, the wet and cold weather and consider the up side that the experience of the great outdoors can offer. For me it’s a stress free, uninterrupted time I can spend with my family, my wife, a good wine under a romantic star lit sky and my children, an adventure of a lifetime.