I Am Not A Happy Camper

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Coffee campfire image

To camp or not to camp, that is the question.

Sorry, Shakespeare, but for me, there is no dilemma. Camping ranks right up there with the Zombie Apocalypse for fun. I will participate if it’s a life or death survival situation, but otherwise—um, no.

My social media feeds are brimming with photos of smiling families sitting in lawn chairs around a fire pit. They happily raise their bottles to the camera, reveling in the delights of the outdoors. I was invited, but politely declined.

I can see everything so clearly on my device, that I can almost smell the woodsmoke. How awesome is it that I can enlarge the picture with just a drag of my finger and see the beads of sweat on the bottles and on the people? I don’t need to actually experience the muggy heat of July in Oklahoma… been there, done that.

I love to garden, but I just can’t get into camping.

It’s hard for me to see the appeal of living outdoors and roughing it for more than two hours. People around me lose their minds over the outdoors when summer rolls around. They plan a trip to the big “Fishing and Camping and Shooting” store with the same fervor that I would plan a trip to Magnolia, Texas.

Why camp? If I want to see nature up close, I can stand near the HDTV and see the freckles on a ladybug.

How about experiencing the reality of the natural world? Anything more “wild” than the squirrels and robins I see in my backyard, I don’t want to share even a state park with.

“But the camping community is so friendly!” There are nice people everywhere. I just don’t need to fight with them over a cement table and benches that the Flintstones would find uncomfortable.

Picnic table camping from OKC Moms Blog

As if being a mom is not hard enough, camping increases my workload exponentially. To the power of X days of camping, multiplied by how many people I have to keep in toilet paper. And there are so many folding things: folding chairs and tables, folding cots and stoves. Once you get everything clean, folded, and stowed away after one meal, it’s time to start unfolding for the next one.

Camp cooking was fun when I wasn’t the cook.

Cooking on a camping trip was fun when I was a kid at 4H Camp. Someone else did the prep for those little foil packet meals. Now I’m the one who has to divide potatoes between four packets, keep the foil from blowing away, add some butter, shoo the bugs, fold them (see – more folding!) tightly so no butter leaks out, and cook them over red hot coals without burning them.

Then someone says, “Doesn’t food cooked outdoors just taste so much better?”

Hygiene rules that we have followed all our lives are just glibly tossed out the window on a camping trip. Washing your hands in runoff ice chest water is perfectly fine. If you have to visit Mother Nature, take this roll of toilet paper because the camp bathrooms are always out. Here are some baby wipes to clean your hands when you’re done, but don’t use too many! Those are also our daily shower method if we don’t go swimming. Gross and grosser, to the point that I will want to hose myself off before I walk in my house when it’s all over.

Camping tent from OKC Moms Blog

“But camping is so much fun!”

I can’t overlook the critters of the night who will be sharing our camping space. As I lay on top of my too-warm sleeping bag, I hear the little scritch-scritch of tiny raccoon toenails walking across my cement dining table. This raises a question in my mind as I lay there. Should I scrub the table with dirty water, or just throw one of the kids’ used beach towels over it as a tablecloth?

If the camping trip is at the lake, we have the boats and jet-skis providing background noise all day long. Our tent will be visited by some wandering drunk people who have mistaken us for their good friends. Someone will get a second-degree sunburn and I will need the paramedic-sized First Aid kit I bought to ensure our survival.

When the next camping invitation comes to us, we will listen politely as a dear relative recounts all the glories of nature and camping, and how much fun it will be. We will thank them sincerely for inviting us. We will decline the invitation with heartfelt gratitude for wanting to include us. And we will gratefully crawl into our own indoor beds, where visions of hot water and clean towels fill our pillowed heads as we drift off to sleep.

What about your family? Are you campers, glampers, or non-participants?

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Kelly was born near Alva, and grew up in Enid and then near Miami, Oklahoma. She met her handsome husband Charles while they were both students at OSU in Stillwater. They were married in 1992 and have two daughters, ages 15 and 20. Kelly has been a happy stay-at-home- mom for nearly two decades, and has more hobbies than is probably healthy for one to have. When she is not outside tending to her flowers and shrubs, she may be making jewelry, sewing, painting, baking, or working on her blog. Volunteering for her children's schools and arts programs has been a pivotal experience for Kelly. Proud to be a Drama Mama and a Choir Booster, she has worked hard to support the fine arts in education because she has seen the positive impact these activities have on student lives. Kelly is very happy to be putting her BA in English to good use, by helping to teach ACT Test prep workshops, writing a fictionalized family memoir, and with OKCMomsBlog, making a contribution from the perspective of a mom to older kids.

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