Camping isn’t always amazing views, a running mountain stream and a heat soaked fire. Sometimes its dust, rain or even pesky flies that want nothing more than to crawl into you ears, nostrils and mouth. Its a lack of firewood, ground so hard you can’t knock a peg into it or even a windy environment.
How people adapt to a change in their normal routine varies. Just heading out into the wilderness is enough for a change in comfort zones for a lot of people. For me, thats exactly why I camp. Doing something a little different somewhere new. The challenges that come with every aspect of camping are the very things I enjoy about it.
We all understand that the way you set up your house is designed to cater for your own needs, wants and personality. You can have visitors come over and feel proud of what you have. While entertaining you know where everything is, how to use your appliances, and the environment is consistent, unlike camping.
I enjoy watching people, as a lot of us do. Seeing how they interact and respond to changes. What they do to overcome challenges and how they work with each other. While camping this can be all the entertainment you need. For me its a comfy camp chair, something to quench my thirst, and the all important pair of sunglasses. Why the sunglasses you ask. Well while watching people respond to a challenging situation and being caught doing so can unfortunately escalate that persons mood. Do it on the sly I say.
Someone I’ve known for years, just recently had their own challenge while camping. The site was level, there was shade and plenty of room, however when it came to setting up the tent, the wind picked up and made life a little difficult. For someone that is usually a controlled, level headed guy, he turned into a combination of the “Hulk” and “Gordon Ramsey”. The music coming from the site five minutes after placing the tent on the ground was so colourful that I myself felt uncomfortable for everyone else in the area. Others respond less favourably towards pests, dust or even a loud neighbour.
This is a difficult one. I’m lucky enough to usually be asked for help. Maybe its because I’m always finished first, or that I look like I know what I’m doing (I hope so). Offering your help should be carefully approached. For certain people, having someone offer their help can be seen as failure to be able to complete the task on their own. However being asked, or offering to help set up someone else’s tent, table or whole site comes with its own challenges. Firstly, you don’t want to just take over. Be careful of making suggestions unless you have a good relationship with the person or people. Bearing in mind, the person your helping has already been challenged, and has no doubt already experienced heightened emotions, quietly assisting is usually best. I mentioned that I’m usually first to set up. I occasionally help set everyone else first before starting my own camp. This works great so long as you don’t mind people trying to help you. I don’t take offence when I’m not asked if I need help because it can sometimes take twice as long, but If I’m using one of my larger tents, and I need help, I’m happy to ask before attempting as I know I can’t complete the task alone.
Having a central dome tent that houses a central table, camp chairs and cooking facilities that everyone shares is sure to get someones emotions heightened.Now this is fun. Remember when we used to live at home with Mum and Dad. How annoyed you got when mum used to nag you to keep your room clean, and to pick up after yourself. Well put yourself into your mums shoes (if your a clean camper like me). Having a central dome tent that houses a central table, camp chairs and cooking facilities that everyone shares is sure to get someones emotions heightened. Add children into the mix and it can be a nightmare – Rubbish everywhere, dirty dishes left out for the insects and wet clothes draped across the table and camp chairs. Setting ground rules works if you don’t have children camping with you. Rules such as; if you use it clean it, all rubbish in the bin, no food to be left out and clothes belong in your tents. Having a central point where people congregate is a great way to enjoy meals, drinks of camp stories together. A central campfire is perfect for this if the environment permits.
Now this is fun. Remember when we used to live at home with Mum and Dad. How annoyed you got when mum used to nag you to keep your room clean, and to pick up after yourself. Well put yourself into your mums shoes (if your a clean camper like me). Having a central dome tent that houses a central table, camp chairs and cooking facilities that everyone shares is sure to get someones emotions heightened. Add children into the mix and it can be a nightmare – Rubbish everywhere, dirty dishes left out for the insects and wet clothes draped across the table and camp chairs. Setting ground rules works if you don’t have children camping with you. Rules such as; if you use it clean it, all rubbish in the bin, no food to be left out and clothes belong in your tents. Having a central point where people congregate is a great way to enjoy meals, drinks of camp stories together. A central campfire is perfect for this if the environment permits.
Pets while camping.
Rover loves camping as much as we do. If where your camping permits pets, you still need to decide if you ‘should actually bring your pet’ or not. A small handbag dog that sits quietly in your lap has completely different needs to that of a German Shepherd or Great Dane. Apart from catering for your pet with food bowls, toys and activities, but you must also consider your pets waste. Remember a lot of sites are “carry in carry out” which means you must store it and remove it when you go. Leaving a small chocolate log on the ground isn’t an option, especially if you don’t have running water to wash shoe soles or even worse, out from between your toes. A barking dog will only frustrate people and an active dog running around a site can also inflame tempers, especially when small children are involved.
Did you hear that drunk guy last night?, Did you hear Frank and Sue last night?, That baby kept me awake all night !, or That music was so loud I couldn’t sleep. Annoying right ! A little consideration goes a long way when camping. This is why selecting where you camp, where you place your tent or what side of your tent you place your table can make all the difference. A lot of people forget that a tents walls are thinner than a piece of paper. Sound travels so well, and unless your a long way from other campers they’ll hear everything, and I mean everything !! On the same subject, a light will also cast shadows against you tent wall making your tent a movie screen for others to see exactly what your doing. Being drunk has a strange way of making you talk louder and lowers your ears ability to hear music, so it gets turned up. Many people camp to get away from noise. A crying baby sounds twice as loud at night when camping, and although a crying baby is no-ones fault, some people just don’t get it and can react towards the parents of said baby after a sleepless night, in this case, select a site away from other campers or camp with friends who are aware of little Johnny’s sleep patterns.
Theres nothing funnier than seeing a grown man loose his mind when faced with unrelenting flying insects. Waving his arms around, yelling and swatting. There are ways that prevent flies from being such a nuisance when camping. Fly screens are probably the best, but you get the feeling your a caged animal. Insect repellant works well with some insects and not so much for others. Unless you want to be constantly spraying yourself with a can that leaves your eyes stinging and your skin smelling you’ve got choose another option. Placing a fly trap (bottle with smelly liquid in it) near your site works a little but when the wind changes, the smell wafts through your camp with the aroma of a dead animal. Keeping food secure and sealed, keeping your site clean and waste away from your site can prevent unwanted insects looking for food in the places you don’t want them. Selecting a site near stagnant water means you’ll have to deal with mosquitos, selecting a site near a working farm means you’ll have flies, the beach, sand flies. Considering where you camp and during what season will mean you have more control over the visitors to your camp. Here in Australia, we don’t have bears, cougars or racoons, we do however have snakes and spiders that aren’t very nice. Unlike flies, they don’t like human interaction, so leave them alone and they’ll leave you alone.
We’re camping to enjoy the environment, not change it but embrace it. Chopping down a tree to fit your tent in or breaking out the shovel to level you tent site is not really acceptable. Yes there’s going to be dust, there’s going to be sacrifices that you wouldn’t accept at your own home. I know someone that camped for one night, out of what was supposed to be a four night trip. He couldn’t handle the dust, stayed just one night and was packed and gone before breakfast the following morning. The sun can also be an issue in summer here in Australia, choosing a shaded area can make all the difference. Always look up when placing your tent under trees as falling branches don’t make good tent companions, people have died being crushed by falling tree limbs. Unless you want to wake up in a pool of water, don’t place your tent in a hollow or dry creek bed. And know that if your in the high country during winter, you’ll likely get snow, so practice smart camping.
So this is just a few things I’ve come across while camping over the past several years here in Australia. I’ve seen people loose their minds, families struggle with each other and people bailing water from their tents. Grown men run through their sites swatting flying insects, ant bites that must have felt like a shark bite and sunburns that no-one would ever want and a couple struggle to dig their tent out of the snow. I think about all the dynamics of camping, and believe that you either embrace everything or you’ll struggle with the small things and not enjoy it.
Camping teaches you so many things, not just about the outdoors but about yourself. Having patience, acceptance and the ability to adapt make all the difference. They have to me.