My parents never took our family camping because my Mom considered camping to be the opposite of a vacation. After all, you have to pack lots of the things you’d use at home (kitchen supplies, toiletries, linens, clothing, etc.), drive them to the campsite, unpack them, use them, pack them back up to leave, take them home, unpack them, wash them, and re-pack them again for their regular use. Why go through all that when you can just stay home and not have to pack or unpack anything? Not to mention, there’s the cooking while not in a kitchen and the sleeping while not in a bedroom. Millions of people camp all over the country every year, but we were never among them. As a result, I’ve tended to side with my mother when it comes to opinions on camping.
Jim, on the other hand, has always had romantic notions of camping. His parents didn’t take him camping either, but he attended many years of church camp where he slept in lean-tos and cooked over an open fire. He counts those experiences as some of his favorites. So, it’s no surprise that he’s been eager to take our family camping. I finally agreed to give it a try last summer when we found out that some out-of-town relatives were planning to tent camp at a nearby campground for a few days. I figured we could join them and try it out. If we didn’t like it we’d only be a few miles from home.
As it turns out, the week we selected was the hottest week of 2012 – 100 humid degrees each day. We were tent camping and we didn’t even have a fan. In addition, we were camping during the week, so Jim had to leave each morning to go to work, leaving me with a 5-year-old and a 7-month-old in the sweltering heat all day. The first night, a thunderstorm so intense that it washed out some local roads rained down upon our little campsite. Between the rain, the heat, and the loud neighbors I barely got any sleep. It was not the charming camping experience I had been sold, and I made my own promise not to tent camp again. A month later, when the opportunity arose, we purchased a cheap, used pop-up camper.
This weekend, we camped again at the same campground and it was a completely different experience. Despite the unseasonably cold temperatures (low 40s at night), we were cozy and snug in our quiet, heated camper. All four of us slept soundly in our separate beds that were not on the ground. We had a refrigerator to keep our food cold and a stove and griddle (for Jim) to cook on. It was wonderful.
There’s a term for my kind of camping: “glamping” or glamorous camping. We still get to enjoy all the fun of campfires, hiking, and fishing – not to mention the community aspect one finds at a campground – but we don’t have to sleep on the ground or watch our tent get blown over by the wind. Besides, it’s not like we’re alone, you know. Three quarters of the campers in our campground this weekend were in campers larger and cozier than ours.
So, now I’m definitely up for all the “glamping” Jim can throw at me.
(I’m also up for ignoring the mountains of campfire-smelling laundry in my basement).