The Reluctant Camper

The Reluctant Camper

Camping is stressful, dirty and a lot of work to have ‘fun.’ Which is why I don’t really like it.

When I was 10, I once sobbed myself into a remorseful stupor over the fact I wasn’t born in the 1800s, and thus couldn’t be a pioneer like my childhood hero, Laura Ingalls Wilder. In hindsight, I probably would have made a terrible pioneer. How I know this now is rooted in my conflicted disinterest in camping.

As someone who grew up in the country and loved to play in the woods as a kid, this confession borders on blasphemous. It’s as if this major detail of my background means I’m not allowed to not find joy in going out into the near-wilderness to sit around a fire and sleep in a flimsy nylon shelter.

Yet the more I’ve pondered it, I’ve come to understand and accept why camping is so “meh” to me, while so many I know are gung-ho about a weekend in the woods. Don’t get me wrong — I totally do love and respect nature. I just want to experience it on my own terms.

Growing up in rural Stevens County, every summer was spent outdoors, as much as possible. In comparison, camping doesn’t inspire much excitement. Been there, done that. My siblings and I often “camped” in a tent pitched in the yard, even when it scared us silly to hear any sounds outside, fearing a wild animal coming to eat us.

Wild animals are a major reason I don’t feel inclined to camp — specifically in a tent, which is all I’ve ever done. How is that going to stop a bear or a cougar from getting inside if it wants?

In a tent, I lie awake in a constant anxiety-ridden state, straining at the slightest snap of a twig or rustle of leaves. Then, having not slept at all, I require daytime naps while everyone else is awake to keep “vigil.” This fear of sleeping in the woods was only solidified when, a few years ago, we actually saw a young bear not far from our campsite.

I also don’t favor temporary pioneer life in the woods due to the sheer amount of planning and work it takes to load up the wagon — I mean car — with food and other supplies. Then there’s getting dirty and sweaty and not being able to shower. And, what if it rains?

Even so, the next time I’m invited to go camping, I’ll likely agree in reluctance. But I won’t be happy about it. ♦

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