I was never an avid camper, but I did consider it to be an enjoyable adventure. I camped as a boy scout, both in summer and in winter. My stepdad took me camping and gave me his WWII army surplus mummy bag. This old bag made the winter scout camping trips particularly enjoyable when the other scouts were freezing and I was warm. The other scouts were highly motivated to get up in the morning to build a fire while I stayed on bed. My parents took me and my sisters on several camping trips, including one summer when we camped for a weekend in a tent on Doheny Beach in southern California.
As an adult, I took my family tent camping on several occasions. Once I packed all the gear for two adults and two children including tent, ground cloth, air mattresses, sleeping bags, stove, chairs, table, food for a long weekend, and clothing into our Volkswagen Beetle. Later we camped in Moab for the Easter jeep safari, and on the shores of Lake Powell, but we had a larger vehicle than the Beetle.
Years later, when my marriage was falling apart, the family stopped taking camping vacations. I spent many weekends going to BMX races with my sons, while my wife and daughters went their own way.
After getting divorced and remarried, my new wife Janeen and I wanted to be with each other as much as possible, especially on our weekends. This reinstatement of life styles, that included the bliss of spending time with someone who also wanted to spend time with me, once again included camping.
My wife’s extended family enjoys an annual camping trip together. Her extended family includes a mother, two sisters, and two brothers, their children and their families and our children and their families. I wanted to impress my new in-laws by making meticulous preparations for this camping trip. I borrowed a tent, and made sure we had warm sleeping bags, air mattresses, pillows, extra blankets, chairs, a table, stove, cooking utensils, food, and as many of the comforts of home as possible while living in a tent for four or five days.
My wife wanted to support me and helped with arrangements. She had owned a motor home, but it was about 30 years old, had leaked for years, and was trashed inside. She gave it away to a charitable organization for the tax deduction. That explained why she did not have a tent and other camping equipment that would be expected with annual camping trips.
It was the word “camping” that threw me. I did not make the connection between the motor home and the term “camping.” We packed everything into our SUV and headed for the mountains. We arrived at the campsite early and chose a good site for our tent. It was a large campsite with what appeared to be more than enough room for even a large extended family.
As the others began to arrive, however, I realized that the term “camping” meant something different to me that it did to the rest of my wife’s extended family. Each family arrived pulling well equipped travel trailers, campers, motor homes, or toy haulers. Their idea of “roughing it” was having to manually adjust their portable satellite dishes for their TV reception.
The members of this group were kind and accepting of me, a newcomer to their family. They did not say anything negative about my lone tent among all their luxury mobile homes. Their idea of camping, however, did not extend to the lowly status of a tent. I took it in all in stride, and although I was somewhat embarrassed about my plebeian status, I got back at them by teasing them about their concept of “camping.” I have continued to tease my wife about her idea of “camping” since then.
I always enjoyed the annual camping trips, but instead of borrowing a tent, I arranged for some kind of travel trailer or motor home for my camping facilities. Wanting to fit in, I have since purchased a truck which is fully capable of towing a travel trailer, but I have not been able to justify purchasing my own camping “home,” partly because it reminds me of my mom and stepdad, who owned either a travel trailer or motor home after their retirement, and I associate those vehicles with being old. In my heart, I hope I never get that old — even though I am already older than my stepfather was when he died.