Differing thoughts on camping

Growing up, I got to spend quite a bit of time camping as a member of various Cub Scout and Boy Scout units.

It was always nice to get away for a few days, sleep in a tent or under the stars, and just have a chance to be out somewhere different, surrounded by the sights and sounds of nature.

Even away from Scouts, camping trips were fun, and included little more than packing up some food, clothes, a tent and sleeping back, and maybe some medical supplies just in case. It was a simple thing of clearing off and area on the ground, putting down a tarp and then setting up a tent and rolling out the sleeping bag. In other words, you slept right on the ground. It wasn’t always comfortable, but that was part of the fun.

I guess I would be in the minority these days, though.

The other day, co-worker Fred walked over to the Daily Times section of the newsroom and asked if anyone had an air mattress or cot he could borrow.

I didn’t, but Summer, our community editor, said she might have one he could use and inquired about his need for the items.

You see, both Summer and Fred have sons in Cub Scouts, so there are going to be camping trips. I’ve often relayed some of my own memories with both, discussing Pinewood Derbies and various trips.

Fred explained his son’s Pack was going on a camping trip soon and the other leaders told him to get a cot or air mattress for he and his son to sleep on in their tent.

I was a little flabbergasted. Part of camping, to me anyway, has always been about getting away from some of the comforts and conveniences of modern life.

I?may have told him he didn’t need an air mattress and they should be sleeping on the ground. It is “roughing it” after all. I also may have called them a bunch of wimps for even thinking about using such an item.

That’s when Summer jumped in and left me shaking my heading and rolling my eyes. She gets that reaction from me a lot.

You see, Summer’s idea of camping is renting a “cabin” at some lakeside “camping” area, full of comfortable beds, electricity and indoor plumbing.

She even mentioned one her family has reserved as part of their vacation this year.

“It’s super cute and rustic looking, plus it’s only $60 a night.”

I told her that was nowhere near camping.

“It’s in the woods. It’s the same thing,” she replied.

My guess is “in the woods” means surrounded by trees but no more than 10 miles from the nearest grocery store or movie theater.

After all, as she’s admitted herself, she’s tried wearing heels while going hiking.

We all have different ideas of camping; what it is and how to do it.

For some, it may just be having that bit of luxury while still being surrounded by nature.

Others, you might be willing to walk out into the woods for several miles, get a little away from civilization but still need that small bit of comfort.

Others insist on taking a camper or an RV with them.

For me though, camping harkens back to those memories of Scout trips. Taking just the basic necessities, sleeping on the ground, cooking over an open fire and watching out for wildlife.

You don’t want to get sprayed by a skunk, after all.

However, it’s done – roughing it or other – ultimately, it’s about getting out there and enjoying the experience.

(Howell, a resident of Colliers, is managing editor of The Weirton Daily Times, and can be contacted at chowell@weirtondailytimes.com or followed on Twitter @CHowellWDT)