Saturday, June 25, marks an exciting day for me. It was the first time I had ever been camping. I went with a group of friends after a float trip, and we spent the night in a campground. Some of us were in tents, some of us were in hammocks. We made a campfire and sat and talked in lawn chairs. This new experience was certainly fun, but some of it was definitely a departure from the regular comforts suburbanites like myself are used to. The following are pros and cons of my camping experience.
Get in touch with nature
On a camping trip, you get to explore the freedom of the natural world and the outdoors. The beautiful scenery, lakes, rivers, mountains, or forests, plus local wildlife if you're really far out. Stepping away from our desks and into some backpacks are a unique way to end a busy week. I love to look at photos of nature and natural phenomenons and landscapes, but to actually be in it is a whole 'nother thing. Seeing the play of sunlight on leaves or the flash of dragonfly wings on water is a touching and refreshing experience. It reminds you of the simple parts of life and lets you immerse yourself in the journey so you don't worry about anything other than where you are in the moment.
But also get in touch with bugs
Yikes. These things are everywhere and all the bug spray in the world sometimes cannot keep them away. During my stay in the campground I saw ants, wasps, flies, and spiders. Sure, these things theoretically should not be that scary, but once you've been bitten by one, then you are left itching for days. Not pleasant in the slightest.
Pitch your own tent
It feels like a proud accomplishment when you succeed in pitching a tent that you intend to actually use. It was our own enclosed space in the wide world, that we worked for. Getting all the poles and stakes straightened out and hammered in the ground is not a breeze, I can tell you that. Some are too long or too short for where you first put them and you have to end up switching them around so they fit in the lengths provided. But once you have that tent up and zipped, you have a refuge from the unwanted critters. We had a pretty big light gray tent with a mesh opening in the top for light and on the sides for windows to let in a cross breeze. The zip front ensured no flying bugs would assail us in here.
But that tent is no home
It's a great shelter, yes, but it can be super uncomfortable, especially when you have it on ground littered with little rocks. When laying down you may have a couple of blankets or a sleeping bag between you and the rocky ground. Tiny pebbles pricking you in the back while trying to sleep does not make for a restful night.
Sun and Vitamin D
You get some sunny Vitamin D and a nice tan in the great outdoors. After spending more than a couple hours out on the river in a raft, we reapplied sunscreen many times and got more than a little tan.
But it is hot
With the sun comes the heat. Soaring temperatures abounded that weekend and we were victims. Over 90% of us on that trip got sunburns. Laying in the tent at night was pretty hot too. It can be difficult to try to fall asleep in such stifling conditions and no need for covers! When camping, don't be surprised to be exposed to some extreme temperatures, without it being moderated by air conditioning or heating. It makes you thankful for your modern comforts.
Build some muscle
Paddling on the raft to navigate the river probably built some muscle in my arms and back, but it is sore the next day. I'm not complaining, I could use some buffing; but this is why I don't work out.
We got some wood for a campfire and cooked food for dinner and breakfast. Waking up to some home cooked food on an iron skillet with the rich delicious flavors is not something you can get every day. Plus, making s'mores just isn't the same in a microwave versus a campfire!
So yes, camping is pretty cool. It just isn't for me. I enjoyed the new experience, but I probably wouldn't do it again, unless I came a little better prepared. My favorite part of the expedition was probably doing the float trip on the river for 7 miles on a raft. It was a little more relaxing and I even got to get in the water a couple of times! I recommend everyone try camping at least once, and props to you if you love it and do it all the time!