Camping: The Lost Art

My tent was just like this

I haven’t been camping in more than fifteen years.  I find that funny because that was something I used to look forward to every summer.  That’s only partially true.  Camping fever started around the May long weekend (what we in Canada refer to as May 24, or Victoria Day).  It was rarely the perfect weather, but you could usually plan to spend some days outdoors.

Though I haven’t been camping I have kept up with advances in camping technology.  Most of my friends have opted for hard top tent trailers (if they haven’t been able to afford a cottage, but nowadays who can?), propane stoves, space heaters, air compressors to blow up air mattresses, though more likely for beach balls, water wings and other inflatable water toys.  Heck, they even have full sinks.

It is a far cry from my days with a square tent with heavy aluminum poles (state of the art at the time) and guide strings.  I remember having to pump up both the stove and lantern before they could be used.  Washing dishes required a good size bucket and again, pumping that stove for hot water.

Though I sound bitter, I am probably just jealous.  Today’s tents go up in a flash, and I wouldn’t have to go into oxygen deficit to blow up an air mattress.  Heck, I could probably bring along a portable DVD player and watch a movie or two.

Among my circle, I must congratulate my younger brother and sister (as well as their spouses) for still being hardcore enough to hike kilometres through dense bush and portage between rivers and lakes and mosquito infested areas for that pristine, back to basics camping.  Though I wouldn’t do it, I respect them for keeping it real in every sense of the word.

As I look back on it, I probably gave up on the whole camping thing after one memorable trip in which every single one of us decided to bring hot dogs as our contribution to the communal meals.  I like hot dogs, but I am not sure they should be eaten every meal.