Kay Frances: Camping is not for the faint of heart

I did my share of camping as a child. I think the concept is better in theory than in execution, but the cheapest way to take a family of six around the country is to camp.

I have to admit that the significance of the historical sites and battlefields that my dad dragged us to was largely lost on us kids. My dad would stand in front of a large, grassy field and proclaim that the battle of such-and-such was fought there. Frankly, all of the fields looked exactly the same and those images of bloody battlefields were the stuff of nightmares. I was more into roaming the aisles of a Stuckey’s or counting Burma Shave signs.

Tents have come a long way in their design. Back when I was a kid, assembling the tent seemed to take forever. It involved several poles, stakes and ropes. My job was to stay out of the way and pretend not to hear my dad curse under his breath. The tent did have a floor, but my sleeping bag was usually on top of a root or large rock which dug into my spine. Or maybe I’m just ultra sensitive, like the “Princess and the Pea.” Yeah, we’ll go with that.

One time, I got so tired of sharing a tent with five other people that I decided to sleep outside. I woke up with so many mosquito bites on my face, you could play Connect The Dots. When my sibs would grow weary of the “license plate game,” they turned their attention to my face and played, “Count the Bites on Kay’s Face.” Good times.

Not to question Mother Nature’s Grand Plan, but I do wonder, just what is the purpose of mosquitoes anyway? Other than to ruin a perfectly good cookout or an 8-year-old girl’s face, does anyone really know what purpose these blood-suckers fulfill? They don’t even taste good on a cracker.

We were not so hardcore as to camp out in the wilderness and stayed at campgrounds, although they weren’t very fancy. They had a shower house, but they were usually beset with daddy longlegs. People think they are a pretty benign creature but, to me, they are just spiders with a better PR agent. The toilets were latrines. If there was any toilet paper at all, it was damp and stuck together. That’s all I have to say about that.

The latest trend in camping is called “glamping” which stands for “glamorous camping.” No tents to pitch, cook stoves to assemble or tent stakes to bang your ankles into. It’s all there in place like a four-star hotel room with canvas walls. Many of the structures have electric, Wi-Fi and running water. They should call it “cimping:” camping for wimps.

So why camp at all? Maybe we have to rough it now and then to appreciate how good we have it. And there is no better way to experience nature than to live among it, even if it has creatures with long, creepy legs. After all, my brother said the same thing about me, so who am I to judge?

Salt Magazine