I Don't Really Like Camping, & I'm Sorry

Okay, well maybe I'm not sorry. But sometimes I feel like I need to be, you know?

My parents used to take us camping a lot when my sisters and I were little. We weren't rich, but we lived in the Pacific Northwest, and camping was a good way to get the whole family out for a trip without buying plane tickets and breaking the bank. This was fun. I have no ill memories of our family camping trips. 

I also went to sleep-away camp a couple summers as a kid. I have some fond memories and some not-so-fond memories of the week-long YMCA camp. The thing is, when I was a child, I was just so. painfullyshy. This prevented me from having much fun at all. I made a friend or two, but after about 24 hours, the homesickness would set in, and I'd be silently wishing I was home with my mom for the remaining six days. 

One year at summer camp, the back of my earring from my newly-pierced ears fell out when I jumped into the lake during a jumping-in-the-lake exercise. It was the summer after 4th grade, and I wasn't supposed to take my earrings out for a couple months after getting them pierced, otherwise they'd close up! I was only halfway through the week, and there was nothing I could do about it. My cabin counselor tried her best to create a makeshift earring back out of masking tape, but it wouldn't stay put. So my earring came out, and my anxious little mind couldn't not think about how my earring holes were closing up! The whole week was basically ruined by my internal distress over the earring back. My pierced ears weren't, though. When camp was over, my older sister helped me re-stick the stud in, which hurt bad, but I didn't care! We squirted some disinfectant fluid from Claire's on it and called it a day. Boy, was I glad to be home. 

In 6th grade, I went to Outdoor School, an Oregon public school week-long tradition involving cabins, April rain, camp counselors with names like Kitten and Kool-Aid, and lots of snot. 

After that, I went camping once in high school with a few friends. Prissy little 15-year-old me was afraid of the whole no-showers thing, but I went anyway because my crush would be there, and well, you never know, you know?

The next time I went camping was at Sasquatch Music Festival. I went two years in a row. I also camped at What The Festival three years in a row around the same time. These were mostly good experiences. However, sometimes I would trip out and start thinking that I might never have clean fingernails again, or about how I wished my air mattress hadn't popped, or how I wasn't sure if it was worth it to wait in line for two hours to take a shower. 

Also, I feel like I've definitely over-packed for a festival or two. And this isn't necessarily a big deal or anything. But there have certainly been times where weeks of committed planning, meal-prep, packing, and unpacking went into a long weekend. I realize this is part of the fun, but after everything was said and done, the festival itself would leave me feeling like something was lacking. It just felt like the effort/payout ratio was unsatisfactorily skewed. This is why I would never survive at Burning Man.

I just can't really get past the gestalt surrounding camping trips.

And let's be real. I fucking hate.....hate setting up and taking down tents. I've gotten into a least four fights with boyfriends over the years about tent setup and take-down. If only the bags were just a few... inches... bigger......

It's like, I want to enjoy camping. Everyone else says they do. And it's not really that I need to be into stuff that everyone else is...it's more that people seem to have a lot of fun doing it, and naturally, I want to get in on that! But I guess my experiences haven't really produced the same amount of fun for me. Or maybe I'm just a stuck up brat who needs to relax? Who can be sure?

Last year, for my agency's annual company retreat (my 2nd year attending), I bought a "4-person" pop-up tent and Joe came with me. The day before the retreat, we had just gotten our new king bed, so the constantly-deflating air mattress and teeny-tiny tent which were set up in direct sunlight made for two unhappy campers. (4-person tent? Try 1-person kids' fort.) We sweat through the nights and dreamed of our new bed waiting for us at home. 

Plus, I broke my elbow after being launched off a laybag, so perhaps my memories are a little jaded....

Anyway, do you, guys! I'm not knocking camping for anyone else's lifestyle. Obviously, people love it and do it all the time. I'm just an overly-fussy lady who wants to reserve the right to not only not go camping, but also to not pretend like I like camping.

Some would say I've never even been real camping. And to that, I say, "You're probably right!" 

It's not like I totally hate the outdoors, though. I like hiking, running, swimming, boating, picnicking, beaching, and reading books outside. (I know, right?! What an adventurer.) I'm also partial to campy TV shows. Joe and I have just built such a comfortable home together, that even some hotels don't feel as cushy! 

Well, I'm off to go snuggle up with my fiancรฉ for a couple episodes of Ozark. Stay campy, kids.  

gestalt: [guh-shtahlt] something that is made of many parts and yet is somehow less than or different from the combination of its parts