What does ‘camping’ involve, anyway?

The debate rages on. No, not the political one. There is an ongoing debate among my friends about what constitutes real camping.
I say camping is in the eye of the beholder. Just how rough does it have to be to qualify as roughing it? If you demand all comforts of home be left behind, then I welcome you to head on out wearing nothing but an animal skin and carrying nothing but a club.
Some of us feel that a well-appointed RV is roughing it. If you insist that you need to have trekked 15 miles in with a 50-pound pack, freeze dried food, a damp sleeping bag and possibly snow on the ground, I hope you’ll send me a postcard.
My research has spotted a definite personal trend. There was actually a time when I carried my own 50-pound pack. My knees are still pretty unhappy about it, but at the time it was glorious. I wandered into the Eastern Sierra and actually hated coming back to civilization.
The next trip, I hiked briskly into the Western Sierra for a week with no blow dryer, makeup kit or toilet nearby. I was however, only carrying a day pack. Some very accommodating horses carried everything else, bless their four-legged hearts. Someone also did all the cooking and clean-up. Right then, my definition of roughing it took a severe downturn.
I later did some camping in the local mountains and beaches in our VW camper van. It was also great fun, although I admit it was my children’s idea. I found that I rather enjoyed not sleeping on the ground, so once again, my vision of roughing it got a bit softer (although I did have to do the cooking).
A couple of decades slid by and the whole concept has really gone through some serious rearrangement. My most recent camping-like experience was my three days at the lake cabin. It was wonderful, and I did fine without a shower. Having only one small bathroom for five people, however, was rough enough for me.
It’s looking unlikely I will be going back to any serious wilderness. My getaways seem to keep gaining more and more amenities. From here, I believe I will have to revise the term “roughing it” to apply to any place without a day spa.
My nine-day cruise to the Mexican Riviera dealt my attitude a death blow. There’s no going back now. As I sailed, I thought briefly of my co-worker, a camping purist, and wished him a wonderful time applying mosquito repellent over that dirt. For me, roughing is now having a drink without an umbrella.


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