Sunday. Time once again to write on the topic assigned by my church ladies. This week the topic is:
Did/Do you go camping? Tell you experiences doing it.
Do you suppose the opening line is enough to qualify for having done the challenge?
Camping is of very little interest to me. It’s not that I am a girly girl or have an aversion to getting dirty or breaking a fingernail. On any given moment my fingers are covered with spray paint and / or ink sealed with a fine layer of Mod Podge.
But I am partial to my creature comforts. I prefer things like mattresses, flush toilets, roofs, walls, flush toilets, running water, and flush toilets. To me roughing it involves eating by candlelight.
However I am a member of a camp centric church. Most of my camping experiences can be traced to something brought about by my church membership.
The first such experience was girls’ camp when I was a teenager. I have been taught to swim, but I’m not very good at it, so the obsession with playing in the lake (actually more of a glorified mud puddle) rather escaped me. I have two or three strong memories of the event, one good, and two qualify as things never to be mentioned again.
The good memory was the fun we had lashing everything in camp. We lashed tables, chairs, the latrine, even a TP roll holder for the latrine. We were the lashing queens.
The bad experiences convinced me never to go camping again.
I held to that promise for more than 10 years until the church once again roped me into thinking camping would be fun. This time I was part of a Singles Ward with a generous bishop who owned a houseboat on Lake Powell. Every summer he invited the entire congregation to spend a long weekend on the houseboat. We did have a flush toilet. But since we also had way more people than is recommended in houseboat brochures, we spent a lot of time “wading into the water” to take care of the call of nature.
Then we went swimming.
As my swimming skills had not improved over the years, and the water had become a group potty for the party, I didn’t spend a lot of time in the water.
I wasn’t hot on the camping, but I did enjoy the company and had a good time overall.
Since the goal of the Singles Ward bishop was to abolish the congregation two by two, and the houseboat outings were not doing the job, we also took a couple of river trips down the San Juan.
Again the bathroom facilities were less then stellar. But I really did enjoy the long, lazy float down the river. The San Juan is in a protected area with Indian reservation on one side and Bureau of Land Management land on the other, so the scenery was reasonably unspoiled.
I and a group of friends compensated the kayaks to use as mattresses during our two night stay. But I quickly became disgusted with many members of the party who behaved like 12-year-olds on their first field trip. By the end of the trip it was pretty clear tome why everyone was still single. After three days I wanted to get shed of the lot of them, (except the three people who were sharing kayaks with me).
On the bus ride home as I watched people in their 30s behave like badly behaved teenagers, I resolved to do whatever I had to do avoid any more trips of this nature.
Ironically, later that summer I went on one more camping trip. This time I went with a group of friends in early fall. The weather was fine, the leaves were starting to turn and the acorns were ripe on the trees.
This trip restored my faith in camping. We took walks together, talked about hopes and dreams, pitched in to cook and clean up and simply enjoyed each other’s company. Best of all there was a flush toilet down the road.
I guess my experiences with camping have led me to the conclusion that in camping as well as in life a few luxuries go a long way. But the thing that can make or break constant contact with people in a primitive setting is the company you keep.