|Storm moving in on Tupper Lake, NY Adirondack Mountains|
When I was growing up my father's idea of roughing it was staying in a "motel" instead of a "hotel." We spent summer vacations at resorts and Atlantic City. Once in a while we would stay in a cottage by the ocean which I loved. It didn't have any electrical outlets, just a single bulb light in each room, and we had to take showers outside!
The only down side to the cottage was that I had to share a room with my brother. He slept on the top bunk and snored and dangled his arms over the side of the bed. Most nights I would wake up from nightmares of dismembered body parts trying to suffocate me in my sleep. What can I say, I watched a lot of Chiller Theatre.
I really wanted to go camping. It wasn't until I was in my twenties and I went on a 7 week hiking expedition in Peru did I even come close to camping while staying in a tin roofed hostel which was affectionally called a "Gringo Shack."
Not until I worked at Paragon Sporting Goods in Manhattan as a manager of their outdoor clothing and camping equipment departments did I have my first real camping experience with my future husband, Trip.
Even though Trip also worked at Paragon he had a 30 year old Coleman stove, and a tent that was close to that age too, both were hand-me-downs from his father. He is a frugal man. The first night I slept in his tent I practically floated away on my sleeping pad because the tent had filled up with rain water.
In the morning while making breakfast the stove exploded. I screamed and panicked while my Boy Scout boyfriend poured water in a circle around the stove and contained the fire.
Over the years I have graduated from campsite camping, to backpacking, to canoe wilderness camping. My kids went on their first camping trips as soon as they were toilet trained.
|original illustrations by john tenniel|
To camp or not to camp??? Why should you leave behind your air conditioning and therapeutic mattress? Well, besides the fact that there is nothing more serene than watching the sunset while sitting at your camp fire, or that jumping into a lake in the morning and lifting your head out of the water to lock eyes with a wild animal, usually a deer, touches your soul in a mysterious way... why?... because it's fun, and it will make you a more capable and confident person.
When you are able to pack everything you need to survive on your back and venture into the woods with the knowledge that you can take care of yourself; life's rough spots become easier to deal with.
When you have cooked dinner in the pouring rain, or have sprained your ankle hiking and you still managed to get yourself out of the woods in one piece - you know you are self sufficient.
Camping teaches you how to be more adaptive. If one campsite gets taken over by bears, you pack up your gear and move to another one. If a storm starts to roll in, you make preparations to deal with the change in weather.
Camping develops your ability to realize that there are always alternative courses to take. The notion that there is always a different path that can be taken begins to seep into your everyday life when you've gone camping often.
So, borrow your neighbor's tent, or maybe even ask whoever it is you know who is a camper, to come along with you. Get out into the woods. The more you do it, the more often you will find that you can bushwhack your way out any situation.
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