To Camp or Not to Camp?

12 Jun

When I was 12 years old at an impromptu family meeting (always a sign of bad news), my parents announced that they were planning to sell our camper.

As my mother tells the story, in true preteen fashion I burst into tears and exclaimed dramatically, “Camping is my life.”

Melodramatic, yes. Inaccurate, not really.

Prepping the perfect campfire

I spent my childhood in and out of KOA campgrounds, gathering kindling for the campfire, cranking up the pop-up, lugging ice back from the camp store. Hotels were never an option as we explored the Smoky Mountains, Pennsylvania Dutch Country, Quebec, and Maine’s Moosehead Lake.

Today, 20-plus years later, camping is decidedly not my life. Give me 1,000-thread-count egyptian sheets, room service, and a concierge, and I’m a happy girl.

What warranted such a change of heart?

It could’ve been the wayward drunk that tried to crawl into our tent on our first-try camping trip with our son Samuel, then 2 years old. Or the very loud, 3 a.m. domestic dispute at the neighboring site on the same outing. Oh, and it rained the entire weekend.

But one bad experience does not break a seasoned camper.

A few years later, two kids in tow, we arrived at Hershey Park campground at twilight.

By the time we confirmed that the tent poles were, in fact, back in our garage 400 miles away, it was dark and the kids had learned a few choice phrases.

The solution? Three nights with 4 people in a 2-person tent . . . I didn’t say it was a good solution. Did I mention Will was potty training?

Still I persevered. Camping is (was?) my life!

The last straw was a girl’s get-a-way to Martha’s Vineyard. After check-in and non-refundable payment, we discovered why the campground seemed deserted for a summer weekend. Gypsy moth infestation. The suckers were everywhere: covering the picnic table, dropping from the trees, invading our sleeping bags.

And so it is that camping and I have parted ways. Though, we stay in touch occasionally.

Near Santa Barbara, I discovered a luxury tent campground where the store sold s’mores fixings and wine country’s best. At Point Sebago Resort a few years back, we set up “camp” in a Park Home with a full kitchen and two bedrooms. And . . . um, cable TV and air conditioning.

At least I didn’t have to worry about forgetting the tent poles.


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