Camping is one of those activities you either love or you hate. I absolutely LOVE camping. It’s something my Dad did with my sisters and I every summer and we always had so much fun. My Mum, on the other hand, couldn’t stand it. She gladly opted out of the experience after my parents separated and never looked back. As a kid I thought it was just a farmer thing that I didn’t understand yet, but now, as an adult and a farmer I can see a little more clearly what it is each of my parents got out of the camping experience.
For my Dad, it was a sort of vacation. He was a nine to fiver, a city commute driver, and a work hard to get to that vacation type of guy. My dad loves the outdoors, when we were small he loved teaching us things about nature and how to camp properly, he taught us many skills that I still use today and I think he takes pride in that. Camping also gave him freedom. It’s a time to eat nothing but barbecued meats, snacks of potato chips and penny candies, and of course, so much beer. I love camping for those things too, I love the lawlessness of ‘who needs veggies? We’re camping!’ Or ‘who needs a shower? We’re camping!’ Or ‘Hotdogs three days in a row? We’re camping!’. It’s such a brief time that it’s just enough to recharge you before heading back to the real world and I can really appreciate his need to do that.
For my Mum, camping was an unnecessary headache. Being a full time farmer, leaving the farm for any stretch of time is always stressful. There is so much you could be doing back home and it’s all you can think about sometimes. It’s also kind of frustrating to go camping at a provincial park when you literally live in the middle of nowhere. Why pay to sleep in a tent ten feet away from another family when you could sleep in your own bed with no neighbours? My mother couldn’t understand the difference between playing outside at a campground all day, and playing outside around the farm all day. I see her point as well, especially since I can relate more to her situation than my Dad’s.
So I have to ask myself: is it really worth packing up the car to unpack the car and set everything up for three days of… nothing really? Especially when my occupation has me spending all my time outside anyway? Or I could just put on a fire in the back yard and take a hike through the woods by my house.
I think camping as a farmer can still be fun. I still understand that need my Dad has to step away from work and disconnect, even if our work lives are very different. In order to love camping you first need to accept and appreciate the work of it. Setting up the tent is annoying and difficult sometimes but there’s pride when it’s up and it holds against the rain. It’s all a very light experiment in survival and in that there is something fun. Plus, when the work is done you’re rewarded by relaxing by a fire, or a beach, or a taking a nature walk, or napping all day- it’s the reward of freedom. Sure, sleeping on a deflated air mattress leaves something to be desired, and yeah, I’m used to the kind raccoons that hide in the hay mow, not come up to my campfire for treats but, it’s an experience. You build memories from it. Some of the best memories of my childhood, or my life, have been camping. It was bonding time with my Dad, it was learning to fish, it was teaching my husband how to roast a perfect marshmallow the first time we went together.
I think above all, I love camping because it gives me positive nostalgic feelings. I remember all the lessons learned, all the fish caught, all the racoons thwarted and ultimately I want to create new fun memories with my husband and our future kids. Sure there may be years where it rains the whole time, or a skunk gets us in the night, but even those memories are ones you can look back on and laugh. So, yeah, even though I could easily do a lot of the camping experience at home around the farm- it really isn’t the same, and quite honestly, it’s 2020. Farmer’s need vacations too, whatever they want that to be.
Sadly, this year I don’t think we will be taking that yearly trip to Charleston Lake due to the current epidemic. I think I’ll survive though- We have so many more years of camping left in us!
What are your thoughts on camping? Pivotal to the life-shaping experience or something to skip? Leave a comment with your opinion, or just share a funny camping story!