When I think about it, it’s hard for me to explain why I like camping so much. I don’t need to justify it to myself, I just like it. But to try to describe my love for camping to someone else who doesn’t already know, it’s very difficult. I would have to tell someone that what I am basically doing is leaving all modern conveniences, running water, electricity, heat or air conditioning, TV, computer, etc….for fun! I will even sleep on the less-than-comfortable ground in a sleeping bag! To many, this is a nightmare scenario. But to me it’s a beautiful thing.
But even more than getting away from the craziness of everyday life and unwinding, it is a return to simpler days, and it may be a foreshadowing of what may be in days to come. Yes, camping may be training in preparedness. At least, that’s how I look at it when I go. From the building of the fire to cooking over an open flame and setting up your shelter, it is training at its best. Actually, some of my best training came with my experience in the Boy Scouts. We camped in any weather and in all seasons. We caught fish and cooked them over the fire using different cooking methods.
This is also where I was introduced to peach cobbler cooked in a dutch oven on and under hot coals from the fire. When we would camp, we would usually use the sleeping bag and tent approach. But there was one time when we camped on an island with some World War II-era bunkers and gun mounts. One of the nights we spent there, we actually slept inside one of the bunkers.
Today, I try to keep my fire starting skills fresh and I experiment with as many methods as possible. In an emergency situation, I might not have eighty different tools at my disposal. I use matches, lighters, magnesium and spark and even a magnifying glass. On future camping trips, I plan on using my car’s cigarette lighter. I know this will not be difficult, but I have never tried it before. One of these days I hope to prefect the “rubbing two sticks together” method. I have tried this before and have only come up with smoke and sore hands!
I also would like to experiment with camping in different types of shelters. Most of the camping I have done has been in tents. But as of last year I have been utilizing my ’89 Volvo wagon, rear seats folded down. Actually, a couple years back I spent two nights a week for four months sleeping in the back of my Volvo in a Wal Mart parking lot. But that’s another story! I made a way to hang curtains all around the windows for privacy. This has actually become my preferred method for shelter when camping. I just back into the campsite and convert my vehicle into a home for a day or two.
But I also have plans for camping in areas that are not accessible to vehicles. My brother and I have recently found some caves that would make some excellent shelters. They require some hiking to get to and they remain dry in the rain. I can’t remember ever camping in a cave in the woods before, so I look forward to the experience. I also would like to try my hand at building shelters, specifically wood-framed shelters bound with cordage. I plan on using a tarp for the floor and some clear plastic sheeting for the ceiling, well-covered with branches. I used to make forts as a kid all the time. I remember making some that would serve as excellent survival shelters. The thing is, I have never spent the night in any of them.
My camping trips are usually for the purpose of getting away, relaxing and reflecting. I build a fire, play my guitar and read my Bible. For me, in a way, it is a temporary return to a simpler way of life. It’s an escape! But it is also a way to develop and keep valuable skills that may one day save my life.