Press-Republican

Columns

July 14, 2013

What makes a real camper

Camping in the great outdoors is an American tradition, one that has long thrived in the Adirondack region, with its vast forests and natural wonders.

In North America, camping can trace its roots all the way back to 1492, when Columbus and his Native American guide Sacagawea set up rudimentary tents while discovering 37 of the Adirondack peaks.

For centuries, the activity grew, for both practical and recreational reasons. People enjoyed being out in the fresh air, with the flora and the fauna, and frankly, until Motel 6 came along in the early 1800s, there just weren’t a lot of convenient places for families on a budget to stay.

Camping was a staple of my childhood. I still wax poetic about family treks to various locales in New England and New York, one of which even served as the inspiration for the fun-loving camp-out classic film “Deliverance.”

Increasingly, however, people seem to be enjoying the great outdoors without so much outdoors in it. I firmly believe that nothing brings a family closer than being jammed together in an 8-by-10 tent for six days without soap, but many don’t agree.

Have you loaded up the car and visited one of the Adirondack’s fine campgrounds or state parks yet this summer? Or better yet, hiked out into a remote wilderness location, dug a latrine with your Swiss army knife and foraged for your own food?

If you have a $90,000 recreational vehicle hooked up to sewer and power lines, you’re not really camping. For $90,000, by the way, you could pitch a tent at a campground for roughly 2,647 nights.

If you’re staying at the family cottage, where the hardships are basic cable and running out of hot water when the dishwasher is running at the same time that you’re filling the hot tub, you are not roughing it.

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