For many people camping in the great outdoors is a fantastic and uplifting experience. For some it is plain hell. This Article takes a look at some reasons why - and what to do to put things right! Some years ago a friend suggested we go on a camping trip. He'd just bought a new tent and was bursting to 'christen' it somewhere. At that time I'd never been camping in my life so I agreed and off we went.
Just to show the depth of our lack of know-how, we chose to go to the English Lake District in February. I'll say no more - ask anyone who's been there at the tail end of winter! Suffice it to say we arrived pretty wet and cold (we both rode motorcycles back then) and hurriedly pitched the tent then scurried off to the nearest pub to thaw out. We got back and what followed was probably one of the worst nights I have ever spent. I was freezing and the thin sleeping bag I had was useless. I think I managed to get to sleep at about 5a.
m. - sheer exhaustion claiming me. When I woke I glanced at the radium dial on my watch. It was 9.
30a.m. - and still pitch black. I couldn't figure this out so opened the tent flap to discover about four inches of snow were covering us! My friend woke up, teeth chattering.
We 'discovered' quite quickly that we had - No stove No matches No food worth a damn No drinks No dry clothes All I can say in our defence is that we a were very young! We packed up the tent as fast as we could and headed home, blue with cold and swearing never to go camping again. It was in fact some time before I did - but it was with someone this time who knew what they were doing. What a difference! My first two times camping taught me a very important thing. It brought home the fact that, being accustomed to a cosy home and a nice warm bed, I hadn't the first clue how to stay comfortable in the great outdoors. Why should I? As a product of modern civilization My habits were ingrained by a lifetime of relative ease. And yet it's just as easy to stay dry and warm when camping, except in the severest of weather - and even then you can get by.
It's all down to knowhow. I'm not talking about being a 'wilderness expert' or having the survival skills of a member of the SAS either. It's just knowing a few points on living outdoors and applying them. So how do you learn these points? Well, you can either do as I did (no please don't do that!) or you can read up on it or join an outdoor centre or group. A lot if it lies in the ability to 'think outside the box' of modern urban living - the creature comforts we all take pretty much for granted.
Manage to do this and you won't be wet, cold and muddy! So don't let my first experience put you off. Choose a nice summer night, stay somewhere not too far from habitation and assimilate the necessary know-how before you leave. I'm sure that then you will enjoy your camping experience and it will become for you, as it has for so many, a lifelong passion.
Steve Dempster writes articles such as the one above as part of his working day. Learn more about how to enjoy camping or visit his walking website for tips on walking generally.