Occasionally, I change the route of my morning walk, and head out to the local lake. There is a campground at the lake that I skirt the edges of while I’m walking and basically end up wandering right past people’s tents. That’s where the trail leads, I’m not trying to snoop—honest! When I pass by the tents it brings back memories of camping with my Girl Scout troop.
We had a very fun (and brave) Girl Scout leader when I was in high school. She led us on all kinds of amazing adventures that involved camping on beaches, in forests, and out in the desert.
We cooked most all of our food over a fire, or possibly on a propane fueled griddle. I even remember a time when we cooked in a pit! We dug a pit in the dirt, added wood, and once it burned down to coals, we threw in our food, wrapped in VERY CAREFULLY folded aluminum foil packets. We then covered the pit back up and several hours later dug up our dinner. Now, there’s a life skill not everyone has! (By the way, if you plan to attempt pit cooking, you’d be wise to check for more accurate directions elsewhere. It was a LONG time ago and I may have forgotten a few critical steps of the process.)
I also remember the time we were camping in Joshua Tree National Park and we cooked over Buddy Burners (also called Bunsen burners) that we’d made. Let me tell you, if you’ve never cooked on top of a tin can, you’ve missed out! It requires a little patience (though not nearly as much as putting your food in a pit and waiting half a day for it to be ready) but when you’re all done, you feel like a super smart scientist with a full stomach.
It appears, however, that camping has changed dramatically in the past 40 plus years. This morning, when I was walking past the tent campers, I inhaled the amazing scent of sizzling sausages, and then heard a bit of a rumbling sound. I was shocked when I discovered the source of the noise was a portable generator that was hooked up to the pancake griddle. Isn’t that cheating? I mean, where’s the whole “back-to-nature” aspect of camping when you bring along your own electricity? Camping isn’t supposed to be easy, people! It’s supposed to make you tough and equip you with survival skills for your future!
Granted, I may not be the one to criticize. These days, my idea of camping is staying in a hotel without room service. I might be convinced to spend a night at a campground were it inside the relative comfort of a motor home, but my tenting days are long gone.
It will no doubt surprise most everyone who knows me to find out that John’s love of camping was one of the things that attracted me to him. What I didn’t realize at the time was that camping with a Girl Scout troop (and an incredibly prepared leader) in Southern California is nowhere near the same as camping with only your (not not-so-well prepared) husband in Minnesota. And, John never warned me that he preferred camping out in the wild, not in designated campgrounds. (It was then that I realized I’d married a lunatic! Just kidding.)
Let’s just say a couple of mosquito-ridden camping trips soon squashed my back-to-nature ambition. Although, to this day, when I walk past the beautifully appointed motor homes at the lake “campground,” I do get a little itch to spend a few nights “in the wild” comfortably sleeping inside an air-conditioned home on wheels. And then, I think about driving one of those bad boys and decide instead to go back to the comfort of a hotel. But, just to show I can rough it a little, I’ll skip the room service.