July 14, 2013

What makes a real camper


Camping is not a fully loaded cabin at Disney’s Fort Wilderness or a rustic-themed suite at the Great Escape Lodge water park.

It doesn’t count as camping if you have a solid roof over your head. It doesn’t count if you have HBO. It doesn’t count if you have hot and cold running water. It doesn’t count if your cell phone still has three bars. It doesn’t count as camping if your chance of being mauled by a bear is less than 1 percent.

To qualify as actual camping, your trip needs to include at least several hundred angry mosquitoes, immune to any form of spray, cream, coil, candle or harmonic device. Black flies are optional.

For real camping, you have to use a lighting source that could set you on fire if it gets knocked over.

For breakfast, real campers forage for berries … or mix up some powdered eggs or carefully cut one of those tiny cereal boxes into a bowl (preferably pouring on top of it some milk that you just took from an angry wild deer).

For dinner, authentic campers eat beef stew out of a can, or cook anything on a sharpened stick over an open flame: marshmallows, hot dogs, freshly caught fish, chipmunk (sorry Theodore), tree bark. Extra points for trapping a boar and roasting it on a homemade spit.

For dessert, campers have a choice of trail mix, s’mores or one of those freeze-dried ice-cream bars, just like the astronauts eat when they’re camping.

Real campers will sleep in an insulated bag that is never quite the right temperature. They will — at least once during any given trip — be forced to use (poison ivy) leaves for toilet paper and will bravely shrug off the total lack of hand sanitizer.

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