How to: Camping

   A couple months ago I wrote a story about the worst camping trip and the lessons learned from it. Silver Linings / Short Stories and ponderings | Catch More! It is a hilarious story about a really bad camping trip and how it could have been avoided. Then I realized, I need to write a “How to "camping guide.” to even things out. People should at least know that a truly amazing time can be had camping. People need to hear a story from the other side of things. One where it all goes right Well, it never really all goes right, but it can all be an amazing time. I try to minimize the actual itinerary and see how things go when I’m really camping. Plans for fishing and the outdoors are more like suggestions anyway.

    Here’s a list of all the things I would like to do on this trip, but I’m not planning on any of them happening by this plan, except that I am going to enjoy it and be grateful for the time God has let me spend in such a wonderful place. 

  That is the one thing you can always depend on in the outdoors. With the right attitude you will enjoy it. Sounds like life advice again. They spill over, in case you haven't noticed. There’s a whole lot of “other meanings” in those stories. Not all of them, some are just funny, but some do have a deeper side. I’ll let you look for them, I don’t want to spoil the ending.

   I hope you enjoy my new series ‘How To Everything:”. EVERYTHING!

   This should keep me busy till I get another job going. 

What is camping

    Camping, as we call it, is staying overnight in the outdoors. It can be in a sleeping bag under the stars, in a tent, in a camper, or under a tarp, but it’s all still camping. 

   It doesn’t matter how far into the outdoors you go either. It can be on a sandbar up the fiver, by the lake, in a National Park, or your backyard, it’s still camping.

   Camping is a recreation activity. So, by its very definition it is supposed to be fun, enjoyable, relaxing, and hopefully shared with the people you care about. That’s what camping really is: Connecting to things and enjoying the experience while outdoors. That’s camping!

Where to start

    Like anything in life, you have to have a beginning. Nobody likes anything that starts in the middle. I might have to rethink that; it might be kind of cool to just show up and have the whole campsite ready to go. Nnaahhhh. I like the anticipation I feel on the way. Butterflies in the belly are always a good sign.

  Camping starts with a desire to get away from the everyday ordinary world we have become used to. The desire to connect to things bigger than us, experience new things, see new places, and share it with our loved ones. Once that feeling hits you, you are ready to start camping. But be warned: That feeling won’t go away, it only gets stronger the more you camp. Luckily, this is a good thing.

   Once you have realized it’s time to go, then it’s time to look at the How do I camping list

  • Where do I want to go?
  • What is the weather going to be like
  • How long do I plan on staying?
  • Do I really have to come back?
  • What do I want to do while I’m there?
  • How soon can I come back if I leave?
  • How am I going to get everything there?
  • Can I do my job remotely?
  • If I bring a solar panel to charge things with, I could work from there?

   As you can see the list is pretty long, but I promise you’ll ask yourself all of those questions when you start camping. Let’s start with the first one: Where do we go?

 I recommend first timers start in the backyard. You can get used to sleeping outdoors and still have a campfire but still be near the safety of your home if you need to retreat and get your bearings.

   It might very well happen too. You’ll be on sensory overload when you realize you will be sleeping outside and in a blanket. Anything could happen out there. What are all those, SOUNDS? We hardly ever go out there much less sleep out there. What if, what if, what if? Let’s run back to the house and rethink this.

How will we explain it to the kids?

    This is why you need the trial run in the backyard. To work out the kinks. Get your courage up. Start to feel comfortable in the wild places. Don’t worry though, it’ll get better.

   When you can make it the whole night and still not run to the house the next morning you are halfway there. When you get back into the house, put stars by your names on the fridge. You earned a badge of courage. You stayed all night in a place you know nothing about, even if it is only the backyard.

   You now have to start doing your morning ritual out there. Brushing your teeth, washing your face, eating breakfast, cooking breakfast on a fire or small gas stove, making coffee. All the things you would normally do in your home can be done outdoors. It’s just better out there. Don’t worry about what the neighbors think, they are the crazy ones. You’re in training for a new life, a better one, one outdoors, a life with camping.

  I know what you're thinking, what about a bathroom? Good question. In the beginning you might have to use the one in the house. It’s OK, for now, just as long as all you do is run and run out. No lingering.

   Eventually you’ll have to learn to do this outdoors too. People actually only started using the bathroom indoors in the last hundred years or so anyway. This is something that might have to wait till the neighbors can’t see what's going on and think you have gone feral. People in town can be funny about things, especially when people break away from what they have been told is normal. Don’t worry, they are the crazy ones. You are in training for a life better than anything they can imagine, or they will realize how right you are and start training too. 

    People respond to people who look like they enjoy a good life in two ways: They hate you because they don’t want to live like that, or they will be inspired to make necessary changes in the way they think and start living a better life too. The choice is theirs. 

    At some point you might start wanting to go out back just to cook dinner or make a fire and spend time with people you care about. When this happens, you get another gold star on the fridge. You are starting to enjoy time outdoors. That’s like ¾ of the way there. I’m so proud of you and you should be proud of yourself. All that training for a better way of living is starting to pay off. You’re starting to enjoy it. Courage is soaring!

    You all get a self-pat on the back, and another Gold Star on the fridge.

    During all this time you’ve been training you might get a cut or scratch, or bruise, or sting, or bite. Don’t panic, it’s expected. This is part of the course. These things will happen out there. This is why we started training in the backyard.

  On our list of “probably won’t but could happens” we have the number one slot for the First aid kit.First Aid Kits / Probably won't but could happens list | Catch More!

   You probably already know how to use most of this stuff you just never had to use it outdoors. This is why the backyard training program for camping is so effective. By the time you get out there you will know how to do all this on your own in the big ol wilderness. The neighbors, well, they’ll figure it out, eventually. When they top snickering at how smart you were and that you can actually have a good life. The choice is theirs.. 

    The last thing on our backyard camping training course is the cleanup. We have a saying in the outdoors “Leave it better than you found it”. It should apply to the world in general but we actually practice it in the outdoors. Actually most outdoors people practice it everywhere, and you my friend, are on your way to being one of us and living a better life.

    So, when it’s time to go inside, make sure you don't leave anything out there. No trash, no waste, no scrap, no gear, NOTHING GETS LEFT. It needs to look better than we found it.

  This too might offend the neighbors because your backyard is going to start looking like a picture out of a magazine and theirs is still going to look deserted. People will see your yard and say “WOW, they must live out there.” And you do. Living a better life always happens outdoors. Now who looks like the crazy ones. They’ll come around, eventually. Or not. It’s up to them to have a good life, not us. We lead by example; the way God wants us to. 

   Good news, training is almost over. Give yourself another gold star on the fridge.

   You will know graduation day has arrived when you don’t want to go back in the house until you absolutely have to. You’ll start spending more time around a fire and enjoying the air and eating things you cooked outside and sleeping outside. You’ll get curious about doing it somewhere else. You will know how to do it, you will be comfortable doing it, you won't want to come back. You are now a camper.

Congratulations.

Look at all those gold Stars on your fridge.

The rest of the world will come around. Eventually.

Enjoy the Outdoors. Life is Out Here!

written by Benjamin Evans