illustrated by Cara Gallina
There is something about the sound of wind moving through the trees, the overpowering scent of dirt and wildflowers, and the harsh blinding light of the sun violently pouring into your delicate sleep-deprived eyes, that resounds with me. Maybe it’s because I have been brought up in a camping family, or maybe it’s just because I have the ability to stifle my rage when my stupid tent just won’t stay up. Either way, a few summer nights spent camping can be raw, natural, ‘back to our roots’ fun.
However, spending a night in a tent in the wild isn’t all hikes full of hearty laughter, Glee songs sung around a campfire and loads of spontaneous group hugs; it can also be a disaster. Recently, I went camping with a few friends of mine. It was just three other amateur campers and I, two cars and two tents. Reliving exactly what happened would be a far too painful experience, so I will sum it up in short, acute phrases. Long drive. No air conditioning. Hotter than I’ve ever been before. Crowded campsite. Freezing lake. Dysfunctional tent. Burnt sausages. Copious amounts of mozzie bites. Freezing night. Rude awakening by a blazing sun. And, to top it all off, a neighbouring family staying up all night blasting LMFAO. (They weren’t sexy, and they did not know it.)
When most people hear the word camping, the first thing they do is shudder at the thought. Not only because camping is known to be one of the most frustrating activities any human can try, especially when attempted with a “we’ll see how we go” attitude, but because of what else camping implies. Camping means no phone service, no hot showers, no electricity, no heating, no fast food and most of all, no electricity. Why did I mention no electricity twice? Because, NO ELECTRICITY. That means as soon as you arrive at your destination, all of the luxuries we are used to (TVs, microwaves, refrigerators, computers, remote control helicopters that you got for Christmas but broke by Boxing Day and caused you to sit in the shower crying and muttering “black hawk down, poor little Johnny didn’t make it”) are officially a thing of the past.
I think that most scientists* agree that 95% of camping consists of: swearing at your tent, swearing at bugs, or just swearing in general at anything and everything that gets in your way as you attempt to brave the great outdoors.
Yet, even though my camping trip sounded awful, I wouldn’t have changed it in the slightest. It was a memory that my fellow campers and I will look back on fondly, mutually bonding over the feeling of wanting to burn every tent, ever. Through all the disasters, all the little things that went wrong and all the times we said to each other ‘I hate camping, where’s the nearest hotel?’, we made a few great memories and had a memorable experience. And after all, isn’t that what Summer is all about?