Many of us grew up taking vacations that consisted of sleeping in leaky, musky smelling canvas tents in a crappy sleeping bag on the hard ground with our family right beside us. God forbid it rained and turned the campground into a mudslide, or soaked the staple food supplies of hot dogs, hamburgers, chips and marshmallows that were tagged along from home. Those of us who camped, caught minnows, chased squirrels, got dirty all day long and made new friends with other campers from other places around the world. We took showers in community bathrooms – remembering to always wear flip flops to keep from getting some fungal infection on the foot and went to bed as children to the tune of our parents playing cards by lantern, cracking open beers and laughing in the great outdoors. Camping proved not only an inexpensive way to vacation, but one that was truly a step away from life as we knew it. Most importantly, it is something that we loved.
Fast forward to 2012, and now people are ‘camping’ in 20 to 40 foot trailers that cost more than their homes. These mobile homes are equipped with televisions, latte machines, microwaves and most of the other comforts of home… bed included. Heck, some of these ‘campers’ have satellite dishes, and of course generators that run half the night so these ‘campers’ can watch TV and sleep in the air conditioning. The kids sit in chairs and play their I-Pads or listen to music, or play with many of the toys they “NEEDED” to bring from home. And people call this camping.
This begs to answer the question, what happened to camping?
Camping in a tent, in the outdoors, without the comforts of home? Camping in the traditional $5 per night to stay at some cheesy wooded campground with little more than a creek and a swing set camping? The camping that brought us closer together as a family and facilitated our needs to bond with one another over a fire while having real conversation?
According to statistics from Statista, camping is really not a dying trend. In fact, with the economy down slump, many people are choosing to camp rather than stay at hotels or fancy bed and breakfast resorts. The problem is that the down to earth, camping in a tent, becoming one with the great outdoors camping is not as a popular as it once was. More and more people are using Pop up trailers or RV’s rather than staying in tents, and tent camping is becoming more of a backyard style of vacation than one people want to ‘endure’ for several days at a time.
As a society, we have become spoiled. Our general idea of roughing it has changed quite a bit, and the sheer peace and quiet of a campground is losing its appeal among a society that loves to stay connected and is internet savvy. Not to mention the fact that we have a general mistrust for the lack of locks and doors and protection, feeling camping with our family makes us too vulnerable for criminals. We have also become germaphobes that couldn’t imagine showering in a community bathroom, and require a poolside escape to rinse off the creek water from our bodies. We have as a society decided that nature is something to be avoided when at all possible rather than enjoyed, and that everything can be made better, more comfortable, and more fun with the comforts of home. Perhaps so many of us have given up on camping because we couldn’t imagine becoming disconnected from society for even just a little bit – when quite clearly that is exactly what each of us really needs.
The good news is that for those who want to rough it out in a campground and recreate the feeling of yesteryear, there are still thousands upon thousands of campsites scattered across the United States and Canada, where you can take your children and choose the perfect campsite together, set up a tent and learn how to light your own fires so you can experience the incense of campground marshmallows. These campgrounds come complete with wildlife, ponds and creeks, docks to fish from, musty bathrooms and people to meet from all walks of life. And, camping in this fashion is much, much less expensive than hauling around an RV and finding the nearest electrical and septic hook-up so you can experience little more than your home away from home.
It has been proven in many scientific studies that kids growing up with a great exposure to the outdoors are healthier as adults, in body and mind. Green space, the freedom to run and be a child, to get dirty, to play in the mud, to find ways to occupy the mind without being plugged in to anything but intuition and family- is something that every child (and adult) should experience at least once in their life time.
Chances are, you can travel a short distance from your home, spend a $100 on a tent and find a campground that you and your family can call home for a quick weekend getaway. If you live in the United States, Campground Finder can help you find a place to go that is close to home and gives a comprehensive description of the amenities you will find at each campground. You can also find sites, (camp sites that is) in the United States and in Canada at www.uscampgrounds.info as well as a complete guide to amenities.
With fall here, now is the perfect time to take the family on a true, old-fashioned camp out. You might just find that the getaway is much better than you ever expected and brings back memories of your own childhood.