About ten years ago my friend Renee Stewart and I went on a girls-only camping trip. We took my tent, sleeping bags and other gear. Being enterprising ladies who were old enough to appreciate our comfort, we set ourselves to outfitting our tent for maximum luxury. We accomplished this so successfully, that our tent became THE place for the group to gather despite the fact that others had brought a pop-up camper, complete with air conditioning and a blender. It made me wonder how comfortable I could make the outdoor experience for myself and my family.
I come from a long line of outdoorsmen. My grandparents often camped and hiked even into their golden years. My father and oldest brother were both Eagle Scouts and my father was a Scoutmaster for a number of years. I remember eagerly becoming a Brownie, with the understanding that it was the girls’ equivalent to Scouting as I understood it, having memorized the Boy Scout Handbook by the time I was eight years old. I was bitterly disappointed to find Brownies to be little more than sitting around gluing macaroni to cardboard and calling it a mosaic.
Where was the First Aid? Where was the fire building? Where was the marking and following a trail? By golly, I wanted to put my rescuing a swimmer in distress skills to the test! It didn’t take me long to figure out that if I stayed in the Brownie Troop I was in, the best I could hope for was to learn how to sell baked goods and make cheesy crafts. So, I decided to turn in my beanie and spend my time with my father and brothers, learning how to survive and thrive in the wild. My dad was happy to oblige.
Under his tutelage, I learned how to build a fire, how to read a compass, how to read a map, how to follow a game trail, the proper technique for fly casting (Snap it like a buggy whip, Co!), and countless other useful wilderness skills. I studied the stars and learned how to find my way with them, learning which constellations appeared in the night sky in any given month. Two of my favorite vacation activities to this day are hiking and camping.
When my husband and I married, he asked me how I wanted to spend our honeymoon. “That’s easy,” I said. “I want to go camping!” And so we did. In deference to the fact that by the time we were able to take the time off to go on a honeymoon five months after our wedding, I was four months pregnant with our first child, he made a few phone calls to military bases and found an A-liner camper for rent. It was my first experience with a camper of any kind. I had always preferred primitive or tent camping, considering it a challenge to make myself comfortable without the comforts of home.
That little A-liner leaked like a sieve whenever it rained. It had air conditioning and a little propane stove and tiny sink. I learned a valuable lesson from that cramped little camper. I learned that there was challenge enough to be found making a camper cozy. A year later, when we purchased our own ancient used pop-up camper, I set myself to exactly that challenge.
Each time you venture out into the wilderness, whether camping, hiking, canoeing, or bird watching, you will always think of something you could have or should have done to make the experience more enjoyable. As many times as I have ventured out, I still come back with a list of things to take or do that will improve the next adventure.
That’s what this Blog is about – helping YOU improve your next adventure by sharing what I’ve done to improve my own.