Monday 21 October 2019

Me vs Camping

I've been camping for as long as I can remember. I grew up participating in things like Girl Guides and Scouting where we camped at least 3-4 times a year. Our family camped for two weeks every summer in various locations around the province, and now as an adult we take our kids camping.

My style of camping, however, has morphed quite a lot over time into something that is less tenting adventure, and more of a solid, animal attack reduction enclosure.

For years our family camped in a tent until one fateful trip when my mom declared at two in the morning that we would never tent again. To be fair, it had begun raining around one am, and the term "torrential" doesn't do it nearly the justice it deserves. I would consider using "biblical downpour" instead.  This meant that for all future trips we rented a tent trailer, because somehow adding the term "trailer" to it made it less tent-y.

Me trying to look organized while not doing that
Camping with my parents was amazing, and I have so many great memories from those trips. My mother has to be the single most organized camper that has ever lived, and I'm constantly struggling to achieve that level of tidyness when camping.  I haven't yet and don't truly expect to.

Those family trips were an organizational polar opposite to camping with Guiding or Scouting. I mean, of course it threw 5-8 teenages at a campsite with limited oversight....what could possibly go wrong? There are days I look back and wonder how we didn't get eaten by a bear or simply die of exposure. We were the worst campers. We had a blast, but the stupidity was unparalleled.

When camping with Guides, for example, you were not allowed to swim or play in the water unless you had a certified lifeguard. We never had that. Ever. But of course the closest campground, and our location of choice, was right beside a huge lake with beautiful creeks running into it, and on a hot summer day, this was torture. We were early teens and our leaders were amazing. They (perhaps imprudently) gave us a fair amount of freedom, and we took it happily. On the day in question, a couple of us decided that we would go for a hike; we let them know our plans and headed off. The only rule was: don't go in the water.

 Along the way it got hot and we decided that it wouldn't hurt if we just stuck our feet in the creek for a harm, no foul. No one would even know...until my friend fell into the creek.  There's very little hope of playing innocent when you return to your site dripping wet.

Although looking back this girl was a bit accident prone.....she once walked into the cross beam of a swing set and broke her nose, burned her hand fairly badly on a lantern, and fell into (another) river all in the same night. Just saying.

She also provided me the most ridiculous camping anecdote I've ever heard. 

Before I impart her wisdom, however, you need to know that I love being outside, sitting around campfires, hiking, and hanging out with friends, but I hate being outside in the dark. The peaceful forest turns into a nightmarish playground where every sound it a lurking animal waiting to pounce. It keeps me up at night. Every night.  Being in a camper, even our tiny trailer that is almost as old as I am, is a huge improvement over a tent, but I still hear every sound. And I will wake you up to ask if you hear it too. I'm not sure what I think that will accomplish, but it happens anyway.

And just so we're all on the same page, tents are not protection. They are a light film allows you to pretend that nothing is out there, because you can't see it. A toddler with a sharp stick could take out a tent wall....a bear would have exactly zero difficulty getting in. 
Our toddler showing off
the tent/bear take out container that she could
easily demolish if she put her mind to it

But I digress.  It was on a camping trip with my friend that I heard something crashing around in the bushes. We'd long since gone to bed, and she was, I assume, sleeping. I was not. I was imagining the thousands of blood thirsty creatures that were screened from view by our pathetically small tent. And I may have been a little concerned. 

So, because misery loves company, I woke her up to tell her we were going to die.  She sat up, looked me dead in the eye and said "There's nothing out there. All nocturnal animals go to bed at midnight." And then she went back to sleep.

Ummm....I have a question about the definition of nocturnal.

But amazingly, at the time I didn't, and so I shrugged and went to sleep. Teenage logic is stupid. 

And so, if you're ever camping and wonder if you're safe in the forest at night, just remember, as long as it's after midnight, you'll be fine. All the nocturnal animals have gone to bed. 

Sweet dreams.