A Commentary on Camping

Fall is the perfect time to go camping. It’s all right in the summer, but there’s too many bugs for camping to be entirely enjoyable in the summer. I don’t mean that in a “bugs are icky” way (besides, they are icky), but being bit my mosquitoes and swarmed with gnats and all their tiny, beady, avian brethren is not the most pleasant outdoor experience. So to go camping right after a couple morning dews have struck is prime time– minimal insectual nagging and slightly cooler air (so that you can comfortably wear jeans on your poison ivy hikes).

So that’s the theory. Camping is something that is usually every bit as satisfying as I expect it to be. I don’t know about you, but what I expect out of camping is to get a few hikes, see some salamanders, maybe indulge in a fist fight with a bear, and eat as many S’mores as physically possible (and then some). And then anything beyond that is a pure delight– my dad finds some goofy object that serves as a running joke the whole weekend, my mom slips and we all laugh (including Mom; if Mom doesn’t laugh, it’s not okay for us to laugh), my brother misunderstands something we’re talking about and we laugh at him for being a fool (if my brother isn’t laughing, it’s still okay to laugh at him), and so on. Every year, there’s some new shenanigans my family and I get into that entertains us for the weekend.

And we do go camping every year. Last year I had to skip out on camping, on account of being too absorbed in meaningless things like working my job and keeping up with schoolwork, but this year I’m all in (#CLE). We’ve been going annually to this same camping joint my whole stinkin’ life, which may sound utterly boring, but it’s become a sort of sanctuary. You know, like a sanctuary you poop on and burn part of its contents for warmth.

Anyway, camping is fun. If you’ve never done it, you should do it. But there’s some things to know about it.

The first thing is planning. I’m a big “list” person, so I like to have my ducks in a row beforehand. (Incidentally, I leave my ducks at home while I camp.) You wouldn’t want to find yourself out in the woods without tons of chocolate and fruit snacks– that would be a real do-or-die scenario. Another plus side of camping in the fall is that all the Halloween candy is out, so you’re pretty much set as far as your options are concerned.

You’ll also want to bring your Nintendo DS. This is something I realized ten years ago– when it’s raining and you’re hanging around the campsite, you really get the urge to play Mario Kart. (This could just be me, but I’m pretty sure this is just a universal, primal human instinct– to crave playing Mario Kart while camping.)

Another camping necessity is a rain poncho. Not to actually wear, of course, because rain ponchos make you look stupid, especially if you put it on while wearing a backpack; then you look like a turtle. But a rain poncho is a necessity so that any time it rains, you can jokingly ask your camping-mates, “Hey, I’ve got a rain poncho if anyone wants to use it…” and then they can all get a good laugh and profusely refuse the offer because rain ponchos are ridiculous.

Which brings me to the next camping point: camping style. When you’re out in the middle of nowhere to enjoy the beauty and serenity of nature, it’s important to look your best. When you’re on a hike, you want to put your best foot forward (read: wear cute hiking boots) so that the squirrels and the deer can check out your style; if you’re doing a real hot job, the elk may even hit you up (literally, perhaps). Plus, you’ll get some adorable pictures. What’s the point of camping if you’re not photographing yourself every step of the hike and coercing your camping-counterparts into taking artistic photos of you? I mean, why would you even invite your family along if they’re not going to snap your next Facebook profile pic?

So obviously you’re gonna bring your makeup and all your most adorable yet rustic wardrobe articles. And you’re gonna want your hair to look perfectly wavy in a casual, tousled way. A giant suitcase and a duffel bag should be able to fit most of your clothes and beauty products– you are camping for three whole days, after all!

It’s also a rule that if you’re camping, you need to wear a flannel. I don’t know why, but it’s policy. It’s like they don’t believe you unless you’ve got the plaid to prove it. If you don’t have a flannel, I can lend you one– between my family alone we’ve probably got forty flannels at least. One of them is bound to fit your style and your outfit color scheme.

Anyway, once you’ve diligently planned all your outfits using paint color swatches and Polaroid snapshots to detail all your ensembles and their accessories, you’ll actually go camping. You’ll pack all your clothes (don’t worry about packing anything else, Mom will get it all) and boom– road trip time (see my post on roadtrips, called “Driving Disappointment”) and then boom– camping time.

Like I said earlier, the camping part’s a blur of nature and selfies and then it’s over. “Aww it went by so fast.” Well at least you have the memory of taking photos all weekend to remember, and the photos themselves to remember it by. Of course, the last step of it all is posting the pictures everywhere. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Craigslist, Yahoo, Credit Karma, all the websites. This is so that everyone can confirm that you had a super fun time and that you were super cute while doing it.

Anyway, camping is a great opportunity to ignore your responsibilities and run away from stress. The best part is that you get to request off work and neglect your homework, so that after your relaxing weekend, you can come back to a smaller paycheck and a mountain of stress that patiently waited for you at home while you were gone. Look forward to my pictures, everyone!

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