Recently I was faced with the decisions every camper is faced with when deciding what to take away to their favourite site. I guess theres many things that go through a persons mind when trying to figure out what should be on that list. Do I want to appear as if I have it all ! Better than the neighbours ? or do I want to be seen as the person that could handle the apocalypse without battering an eyelid so long as I have my pocket knife !!
We all know that someone that has to outdo everyone else. They’ve usually got the solar panel array, the portable in tent air conditioning and the portable plasma TV for the kids. Is this really camping though ?
Going back to the primitive 1980’s when I was first introduced to the state of the art Safari tent. You know the one. It had cream canvas sides with the blue roof. It had no floor and wooden poles. Now they were the good old days weren’t they. You’d take just enough food so that you’d have to go fishing to be able to make it through to the end of the trip. Firewood was, at nearest, over a km from the site, so you’d have to fire up the old series 2 Land Rover and go collect it. Chainsaws weren’t part of camping kits either, so it was the trusty axe that did the chopping. You washed in an oversized bucket and slept on wooden stretchers that looked like they came from the TV show MASH, on which you were lucky to catch 3 hours of sleep a night.
In hind site, a lots of effort went into making sure that your exhaustion meant you didn’t actually care about the tent you slept in, or that you might be a little hungry. You did go to bed feeling content, content that you actually contributed to your own survival, and that if everything modern (remember this was the 80’s) stopped, you be able to survive.
So standing in front of the boot space, wildly imagining all the goodies that could fit in there, decisions have to be made. Swag or tent ? camp stretcher or blowup mattress ? Solar Panels or battery pack ? LED lights or torches ? Fridge freezer or Ice cooler ? If only things were simpler !! We’ve become so accostomed to having so much that we’re unable to choose from what we have.
As technology has improved, we’ve become lazier, and used to the creature comforts that fulfil us with the sense of being at home when we’re miles from civilisation. Is this really camping ?
Arriving at the camp site, I choose a spot that I can construct my new home for the next few nights. I unload a tarp. This goes on the ground to protect my tent from moisture. The tent come next, which I place on the tarp. I then hang another tarp from the four trees I meticuliously positioned my tent between, this is to keep the heat off my tent. Am I mad ?? I think so. Imagine doing this 30 years ago. People would steer clear of you.
I then pull out the folding table, and place my gas cooker that operated more like a jet engine than a stove (all the better of boiler my water on) and connect the gas bottle. I remove the two plastic tubs filled with approx 200 items of which 15 are actually useful. The rest are just in case items. I promise myself I’ll sort through them before my next trip (I’ve been promising this for years).
The bedding comes out next – fit for a king. No other remarks necessary there. Then the fridge freezer which has been cooled to minus 2. The camp chair, them an obligatory alcoholic beverage. Ahhhh now this is camping !!!! is it ??
Now we’ve all been here at one time or another. Sitting back, alcoholic beverage in our hand, marvelling at the homestead we’ve just created and along comes Johnny, towing his palace on wheels. We sit amused, watching the forward, reverse, forward, reverse, again and again until the premium exactness of the perfect angle has been achieved. The door flies open and the banes of cool air conditioned air affect the outside heat. An electrically driven annex pops out from the side and the satellite dish flies up as if mustered by the hand of a magician. An electric camp chair is placed next to the table outside and starts massaging its occupant, who sighs “ahhh this is camping !!” But is it ??
Now back at home, sitting here, typing furiously at 1:15am, contemplating my next trip away. I come to the conclusion that there really isn’t a specific form of camping that is more or less genuine that the other. Some people hike and camp, taking only what they need on they’re backs, and then some people traverse countries in their motorhomes. Then there’s me that likes a tent or sway, or even better, so long as the bugs don’t bit, the open air. What I take away each time varies as much as the locations I camp in.
But one thing is prevalent over everything. Regardless of your style. Regardless of what you take, and how you get there. We all enjoy the fact that we’re actually getting away. Changing our perspectives and escaping the normalities of our every day lives for something a little more primitive, with a little adventure and a lot of fresh air.
Regardless on how you camp or where you camp, there’s one thing campers have in common. It happens usually on a Monday, when your back ay work. We all share the same thought…….