Make camping go a long way — without going far away.
By Scott Klepach Jr.
What I’m about to divulge may stir up some controversy.
I’m not a happy camper.
I mean that literally. I’m really not a camper at all.
Sure, sure, I may have had a bad experience, or maybe I didn’t give camping a chance. I can enjoy staying in a cabin – or even being under the cover of a makeshift structure for shelter.
But tent camping? Gasp!
I want to like it. I’ve tried, even though last summer was only my second time.
As I wrote then, for me camping conjures up images of tics, murderers and bears. Oh, and cougars, too. Or as my daughter Elise calls them, “poogars.” Not so cute when they are staring at you hungrily — in your imagination.
Growing up, my family never went camping. Not once.
In fact, the closest we came to camping was staying in an Embassy Suites hotel in Bellevue – you know, with all those plants and the jungle décor.
Oh, but I’ve sacrificed — or compromised — my comfort for the sake of family. What’s the compromise? Tent camping in our backyard. (My wife assures me we will go “real” tent camping again later this year.)
The Backyardigans had it right. Why spend all that time and effort packing and traveling to some distant location when you can bring “the wild” to the green space at your back doorstep? (Now if only I could make this argument work with my wife.)
This experience was grand. It helped, sure, to have a fenced-in yard, a familiar setting and our house several yards away – which I retreated to several times (Hey! It was a cold April night!). It also helped having an airbed and an extension cord running from the house to power the Christmas Story leg lamp that lit the tent inside.
I mused that Mark Twain would be proud, and by the light of the leg lamp I read his travel memoir Roughin’ It—rather than experiencing the real deal.
You think I’m lazy? A wimp? A bore? Call me what you will. But we did have fun. Our family roasted s’mores over our fire pit, slept in a real tent, shared scary stories and snuggled to keep warm.
And you know what? I learned some things about our neighborhood because of this experience. Traffic was not the biggest problem keeping us awake. Instead, it was a combination of other sounds: mating cats, a noisy donkey, a persistent rooster and the incessant chirping of birds (and we live within the city limits!).
So if you want to go “roughin’ it” in your own backyard, get ready for adventure of a tamer kind. But be sure to have these items with you:
- Sleeping bags, pillows, blankets
- Christmas Story leg lamp
- Fire pit
- Branches or sticks for marshmallows. And marshmallows!
- Graham crackers
- Chocolate squares
- Hot dogs and hot dog buns
- Glow sticks—fun!
- Board games
- iPad with Wi-Fi connection
- Toy fishing poles for the little ones (attach a magnet and go “fishing” for aluminum cans)
- River rock (in case you want to do some arts and crafts. Pet rock, anyone?)
- Imagination (good for creating spooky stories and pretending you’re not in the backyard)
Filed under Camping, Camps, Dad's Pad, Featured Stories