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Camping Is Soooo Overrated!

why-camping-is-overrated

Having a blood-thirsty tick coaxed out of my back with the flame of a Zippo lighter one summer at Girl Scout camp should've been a huge clue that camping is overrated as a Fun Thing To Do.

Or, on an earlier Girl Scout camp-out, five mostly-sleepless nights in a lumpy, ancient Army-surplus sleeping bag that weighed a ton - even when dry - that a well-meaning WWI veteran neighbor brought over on learning my parents couldn't afford a modern, light-as-a-feather nylon one like the other girls had.

Or, on the last morning of camp, dragging that ancient sleeping bag back up a steep hill to the shelter house in an equally-ancient Army-surplus canvas duffel bag.

Enduring such things, the Scout leaders assured me, was simply part of the Joy of Camping.

That sleeping bag, btw, was never used again...by anyone . In the excitement of finally returning to civilization , I'd forgotten to mention to my parents that my troop's tent wasn't totally waterproof, that a sudden downpour the previous night had soaked my sleeping bag...and only mine. There was no time to dry it out the next morning, so I simply stuffed it as best I could into the duffel bag.

Back home, the bag and its contents were hauled to the basement and not opened for several days. Surprise! No amount of airing in the sun on the clothesline in the backyard could eliminate the damp, musty smell from that sleeping bag, let alone the patches of mold that had so quickly blossomed in those few days in the cellar. I suspect the neighbor wasn't lying when he said he was glad it was ruined. Having lived through the depression, his wife wouldn't let him toss anything usable. Now it wasn't.

Fast forward a couple of decades to when moi was still under the spell of the fallacy drilled into her in childhood that voluntarily foregoing modern conveniences for days at a time was a good thing. Virtuous . 'Deprivation builds character' and all that.

One camping trip, however, jumpstarted the process of disavowing me of that belief.

It promised to be fun, five adults and our offspring of various sizes and ages spending 4th of July weekend on the shores of a nearby lake. Since at that point I owned very little camping gear, I called upon an outdoors-loving cousin for the loan of a tent, and we arranged a meeting point for the transfer. Not until he and his teenage son were muscling the tent out of the back of his van did it occur to me that a man with six rowdy teenagers would have a tent that was not only large but sturdy . Large enough, as a matter of fact, to sleep twelve comfortably...and made of canvas , not nylon. Shades of that long-ago week at Girl Scout camp and the Army-issue sleeping bag!

Nonetheless, it would protect the kids and me from the elements for the next three days and nights...or so I thought as we eagerly drove off toward the lake. After much huffing, puffing and cursing, the tent-for-twelve was duly erected as the "anchor" of our little compound of five tents of various sizes at the foot of a ridge on the west side of the lake.

All went well the first day and night. The weather was perfect for swimming, feasting on hot dogs, hamburgers and s'mores charred over a campfire, and enjoying the outdoors in general. By evening of the second day, however, the skies had clouded over.

After dinner and a couple of hours of chatting around the campfire, we said our goodnights and retired to our respective tents. Around 11 o'clock I was awakened by the sound of "drip...drip...drip..." somewhere inside the tent and jumped up out of my (nylon, of course) sleeping bag to investigate. To my horror, there were puddles all over the floor of the tent, from dozens of tiny pinholes in the roof! After maneuvering the kids' sleeping bags away from the biggest puddles, I was scooting back into my own when the wind started howling .

Hearing pounding and shouting, I jumped up again and peeked outside. My friends were frantically working to re-secure corners of their tents that the wind had yanked loose. No sooner were they were done and safely back inside than the wind and rain stopped . Just like that. For several minutes it was deathly quiet. Then the wind picked up again, a loud, eerie roaring that sounded like a freight train going by on the other side of the ridge. The problem with that scenario was there were no train tracks within miles of the lake.

The roaring went on for what seemed hours , but probably more like 15 or 20 minutes. Then it started raining again. Pouring, actually. Like a monsoon. Periodically I checked for new leaks and puddles. So much for sleep until the storm moved on. The kids never stirred.

The rain and wind didn't let up until mid-morning the next day. At some point in the wee hours, while listening to the wind trying to rip the tent from its moorings and the unceasing "drip drip drip" around me, I decided a sleepless night in a leaky tent praying the wind wouldn't carry it and us away was not my idea of fun. As soon as the skies cleared and the sun came out, the kids and I headed back to the land of flush toilets, AC, and roofs that didn't leak like a sieve.

And the eerie roaring that sounded like a freight train? That was a tornado wreaking havoc along the other side of the ridge.

Did that experience turn me off to camping forever?

Nope. For the rest of the summer, though, our preferred campsite was our own backyard. A kiddie pool worked just fine as a swimming area, a charcoal grill as a campfire.

The very next spring, I put several hundred dollars worth of camping equipment on lay-a-way, and by summer was ready for...even looking forward to ...what would turn out to be another weekend of torture. Different lake this time, 80 miles from home, 3 miles from the nearest town...and the nearest non-stinky, air-conditioned public toilet. Our co-campers were the owner of the leaky tent-for-twelve, which over the winter had been repaired and waterproofed ...imagine that...and his six rowdy teenagers.

That weekend in July would turn out to be one of the hottest on record. We soon learned that 100+ degrees makes even those clad only in bathing suits sweat, that mosquitoes love sweaty bodies, even those covered in Avon Skin-So-Soft, and mosquitoes love hanging out in places sprayed liberally and often with insect repellent designed for large open areas. When the temp is 100+, ice also melts rather quickly in the best of ice chests if constantly opened to retrieve a cold soda, or just a few pieces of ice to suck on.

Then there was the afternoon I nodded off on an air mattress in the roped-off swimming area and the terror of waking to the sight of a speedboat bearing down on me after I'd floated beyond the ropes. After furiously paddling out of its path, I learned that one of the Six Rowdy Teenagers on another air mattress had watched me float beyond the ropes and done nothing!

By the third day, in addition to the initial cost of the camping gear itself, I'd forked out at least $100 on bagged ice to keep the perishables from perishing, ice purchased on each 6-mile round trip to the gas station that had the above-mentioned non-stinky air-conditioned loo. Another $100+ went to keeping the mosquitoes supplied with hourly fixes of Eau du Not-So-Repellent from the Wal-Mart a little ways past the gas station.

What finally turned me off to camping forever? Realizing, while unloading the umpteenth bag of ice and bug drugs, that for the same money (or less ) I could've been in a really nice hotel where a trip to a non-stinky, air-conditioned loo didn't involve driving 3 miles. Where "roughing it" meant having to walk to the end of the hall for ice because our room didn't happen to be directly across from the ice machine.

Hard to believe now that I made fun of the people in the air-conditioned fifth-wheel parked at the edge of the camping area. The one with TV antenna on the roof and the noisy generator that powered the AC, a TV, and a fridge that kept their perishables from perishing and their ice from melting ever . Did I really call those people wusses for never venturing out of the AC to enjoy the outdoors like we were?

Yep. I did.

Never mind that those "wusses" might've been two of my as-yet-undiscovered distant cousins from Illinois who travel the country six months of the year with a 35-ft fifth-wheel equipped with all the comforts of home: a queen-size bed, a full-size Hide-A-Bed sofa for guests, her Spinet piano, a full-size upright freezer to hold a side of beef and other meats custom-cut by their hometown butcher, and a fully-functional kitchen with a special cooler for the interesting wines they find along the way.

For the record, I did enjoy camping once on the banks of the Mississippi at a blues festival, in spite of the jerk who parked his pick-up next to us the first night and proceeded to play Grateful Dead tapes until we and several others complained, (Why anybody would bring Dead tapes to a blues festival is beyond me...) Anyway, being lulled to sleep by the mournful "chug, chug, chug" of tugboats pushing strings of barges up and down the river was heavenly , as was waking to the sky just turning pink through the trees on the far bank.

And there were no mosquitoes!

Comments

Joanna McKenna (author) from Central Oklahoma on October 10, 2017:

Rusty, my one (mostly) enjoyable camping experience was on the west bank of the Mississippi at a blues music festival. The regular campsites had already filled up by the time we arrived after dark the first night, so we had to pitch our tent on the river side of the levee, only yards from the water. The levee was a buffer between us and after-concert jam sessions, so it was the "thwump thwump" of the tug boats pushing barge trains up the river that lulled me to sleep each night, and the sun breaking through the trees on the east bank that woke me each morning. That part of the weekend erased any memory of the inconveniences that surely occurred that I normally associate with camping.

Joanna McKenna (author) from Central Oklahoma on July 13, 2017:

Vladimir Karas, thank you for the praise! I agree that maybe one has to have had an early background in camping, i.e. from childhood or as a teenager, to truly enjoy it, mishaps and all. But then there City Slickers like myself (and perhaps your wife) who'll never learn to love Life In The Rough under any circumstances. In my case, I come from a long line of pioneer women who endured life in covered wagons (and even caves) for (hopefully only temporary) shelter in a new location, so perhaps my distaste for camping is inherited, like blue eyes or brown! ;D

Val Karas from Canada on July 13, 2017:

Joanna---As I was reading your highly entertaining and so well written article, somewhere by the end I thought: "Well, it could have been much worse than that"---and then I added: ...if it had been happening to ME".

Joking aside, I actually have some great camping memories. Not so much because they deserve to be called great, but because when I was a teenager, back in the Communist ex-Yugoslavia, us kids had been conditioned by some tough circumstances to see any camping mishaps as an "additional fun".

And mishaps we did have. We laughed at ourselves, because laughing was a cheap fun those days, as we could not afford anything beyond cheap. To me---it still is now that I am 72. Everything in my life style seems to be cheap to me---mostly because I got a mind style of a "happy camper". My wife would not agree with that "cheap", but then---she didn't go camping with me when I was a teenager to learn laughing at mishaps---and now it includes the mishaps of the cost of living these days.

Again, you wrote a great article, Joanna, and I agree with the commenter above---you are a great writer. Looking forward to reading some more.

poetryman6969 on February 13, 2015:

I liked camping when I was a child but I prefer to forgo it now. We live near near a lake and I get more bugs, mosquitoes, rabbits, snakes and other wild life than I would like as it is.

Joanna McKenna (author) from Central Oklahoma on September 14, 2014:

Nice to see you again, Lady G! Deer "watching us silly humans"...yes, I suspect that's what most "wild" animals think of us when we venture into their territory with all manner of camping equipment. What! The two-legged creatures can't be happy to bed down in a pile of leaves or a hollow tree like we do? lol!

Seriously now. NO, it isn't funny when your camping weekend is ruined by a hurricane-like storm and a flooded tent! I'm soooo with you on never going camping again! ;D

Debra Allen from West By God on September 14, 2014:

Hahahaha! Yes I think it is over rated! I used to love going camping when I was in Girl Scouts a long, long time ago. We thought that it would be fun to do it a few years ago. We even waited until it got warm and went out on June 1. We got there and set up camp and after getting back from our days activities we snuggled in. It was NOT a good night at all. They weren't calling for rain or anything like that. We must have had a hurricane go through. The water in our tent was up to the top of the blow up mattress. ...And cold...you could see our breaths....in June! The only good thing was the we saw a group of deer come into our camping area...to watch us silly humans. We don't want to ever go camping again... LOL Funny now, but it wasn't funny then.

Joanna McKenna (author) from Central Oklahoma on February 22, 2012:

Thanks, Tammy! No, camping isn't pleasant in a tent when it's 90 degrees. It was ten or more degrees above that, though, on the weekend that ruined me for camping forever. When the kids and I headed back to civilization, I learned from the radio it was actually 107. Yikes!

Tammy from North Carolina on February 21, 2012:

Cute hub. I have camped a few times. It isn't pleasant in a tent when it is 90 degrees out. Love the dry sense of humor!

Joanna McKenna (author) from Central Oklahoma on February 21, 2012:

Sherri, the things we do for love! Now that you mention it, being with people whose company I enjoyed was the main reason I agreed to camping trips as an adult! So I replaced them with people who liked sleeping indoors and indoor plumbing better than leaky tents and stinky outhouses! ;D

Joanna McKenna (author) from Central Oklahoma on February 21, 2012:

Thank you, vicki! It's not easy finding the humor in miserable situations! ;D

Sherri from Southeastern Pennsylvania on February 21, 2012:

What a great read! Not only were your words so funny, they made me pause a while to reflect on every camping adventure I ever had...all six of them. And all of them atrocious experiences except for one thing: being with people I love. So, love was the saving grace in every case. Interestingly, my daughter loves camping and always asks me if I'd like to come along with her and her friends. This is quite an honor, I think, but on the other hand she knows I'll never say yes. :) Voted up and funny!

Joanna McKenna (author) from Central Oklahoma on February 21, 2012:

Thank you, Daisy! I'll be over to look at your hubs later!

Sojourner McConnell from Winchester Kentucky on February 21, 2012:

This is a great hub. I love the humor that is splattered all throughout. I voted it up and across the board.

Daisy Mariposa from Orange County (Southern California) on February 21, 2012:

What a talented writer you are, JamaGenee! I thoroughly enjoyed reading about your camping adventures.

Vespa Woolf from Peru, South America on February 19, 2012:

So true!

Joanna McKenna (author) from Central Oklahoma on February 19, 2012:

Good point, vespawoolf! When so many people Third World countries live in primitive conditions every day because that's their only option, why would those of us in developed countries consider living like that "recreational". I was often asked, in relation to my abhorrence of camping, "Where's your pioneer spirit?". My answer was always something on the order of "MY pioneer ancestors didn't consider camping out 'fun', either"! ;D

Vespa Woolf from Peru, South America on February 19, 2012:

I had to laugh when I read this. I, too, abhor camping! I've only been camping a few times in my life and have horror stories from each trip: attacks by mutant hornets, poison ivy, monsoon rain. In Peru, many people live every day of their life as if they were camping. So no, it's definitely not for recreational purposes in my mind!

Joanna McKenna (author) from Central Oklahoma on February 15, 2012:

suni51, "heavy" was all that was available at the time. I prefer much lighter, but even better I like the idea that tents will be set up for you when camping. Far as I know, this isn't done in the U.S. If it is, I've never heard of it. Thank you for stopping by and glad you enjoyed my tales of woe! ;D

suni51 on February 15, 2012:

Nice to read such a nice one especially the tent part of it. But why did you carry such a heavy one that made you toil so hard. Just make sure next time you carry some thing lighter. BTW we do not have to carry them, they arrange them wherever we are camping. Thanks for such an entertaining hub.

Joanna McKenna (author) from Central Oklahoma on February 11, 2012:

Hi, Dolores! Somewhere here I've mentioned I *loved* camping next to the Mississippi at Helena, Arkansas. Great weather, no mosquitoes (that I remember). I think location has much to do with the "fun" factor in camping. ALL of my bad experiences were in Kansas. Since moving to OK, I've seen at least one state park that looks like a great place to pitch a tent. But don't tell anybody I *might* become a Happy Camper!. ;D

Dolores Monet from East Coast, United States on February 11, 2012:

I had to laugh over the awful camping trips. When my friend suggested, at age 40 something, that I'd love camping, I felt the same way as you. Why subject yourself to such discomfort, when you could have a nice dry hotel room with indoor plumbing? Imagine my shock when I found that I love it. Even the rainy weekend. We spent hours sitting under a tarp, catching up and just doing nothing. The worst camping trips are the most memorable.

Joanna McKenna (author) from Central Oklahoma on February 07, 2012:

Happy to provide you with a few good laughs, billybuc! None of the experiences were all funny at the time. Proof that hindsight is the best vantage point for viewing the past! ;D

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on February 07, 2012:

I literally laughed outloud at your recollections and it brought back some rather similar experiences of my own. Suffice it to say I see no reason to ever go camping again. Great hub and now I have many more to read.

Joanna McKenna (author) from Central Oklahoma on January 08, 2012:

How right you are, Turkic! A hotel is MUCH more fun on soooo many levels, even if food isn't available 24/7 from the hotel's kitchens. A guest at a good hotel can have food delivered at almost any hour from any number of restaurants in the area. ;D

Turkic on January 08, 2012:

Suggestion: A hotel is much more fun, if the food service is 24 hours

Joanna McKenna (author) from Central Oklahoma on October 13, 2011:

anglnwu, I don't know why we repeat the experience that sucks at the moment we're doing it. A need to replace a bad experience with a positive one, perhaps. My very last ever camping experience, on the banks of the Mississippi at a Blues Festival, WAS enjoyable and may be the reason I've never had the urge to camp since. ;D

anglnwu on October 13, 2011:

Enjoyed the read. I do camping once in a while. I definitely needs to thaw out the perils and challenges of camping, so I can stoically endure another one.Wonder why one goes back to that which can suck at the moment of experiencing it? Rated up.

Joanna McKenna (author) from Central Oklahoma on September 28, 2011:

Alicia, how nice to see you! I'm guessing some of the chuckles were because you do camp! As for the equipment, many friends have been the beneficiaries of several sets of camping gear purchased when I'd decide to give it another go. Should've saved the money and bought a nice camper instead. ;D

Linda Crampton from British Columbia, Canada on September 28, 2011:

This was such a funny hub! I do go camping, because it's a relatively inexpensive holiday once all the equipment is bought, and it's nice to be close to nature. I don't enjoy the actual camping in a tent part though - I'd much rather have a camper van or a motor home!

Joanna McKenna (author) from Central Oklahoma on September 25, 2011:

alphagirl, I don't happen to be allergic to poison ivy but a cousin is. She didn't know this until after she used leaves from the nearest plant to wipe with, and learned the hard way the rash from poison ivy can cover one's entire body in only a matter of hours. ;D

Mae Williams from USA on September 25, 2011:

I am a hotel and put a chocolate on my pillow girl. I went camping at age 10. had to hike to find a place a to sleep. had to pitch a tent. Had to use leaves for potty. Bug bitten to death because bugs just love my blood. I itched like hell coming home. Camping is not for me or for my kids. None of us find any joy sleeping with blood sucking bugs.

sweetoneangel from New Jersey on September 24, 2011:

Voted up and hit the funny button. great hub, and that is why I will not go camping.

Joanna McKenna (author) from Central Oklahoma on September 24, 2011:

SlyMJ, until that final camping trip that drained my bank account while I got progressively more miserable in the extreme heat, it was mostly peer pressure from other parents that made me ignore my dislike of camping from childhood. ;D

SlyMJ on September 24, 2011:

This is why I stopped going camping around the age of 12 when I realised there was as much to be said for a comfortable bed as for peeping from under the tent at the stars an a rare rainless night. You are obviously more of a optimist than I. Thanks for the grins :o)

Joanna McKenna (author) from Central Oklahoma on September 24, 2011:

Glad I could provide you a chuckle and topics to write about, sparrowlet. If I didn't already hate camping, the sound of a black bear from the other side of my tent wall would put me off it forever too! ;D

Katharine L Sparrow from Massachusetts, USA on September 24, 2011:

This is so funny!! I loathe camping too, but the final straw was the time I woke in the night to the sound of a very large BLACK BEAR who was sniffing me from the other side of my thin NYLON tent! That, needless to say, was the end of my camping career! Very good hub, and gave me some ideas to write about!

Joanna McKenna (author) from Central Oklahoma on September 10, 2011:

MummyTales, camping while pregnant? Not in a million years! If I couldn't be within 15 ft of a real loo when I had a bun in the oven, I stayed home! ;D

MummyTales from Australia on September 10, 2011:

haha I was instantly drawn to this, the title made me laugh :D I HATE camping!!! Voted up and funny! Last time I went campingh i was pregnant and had to get up a million times during the night to go to the toilet, trying not to trip over other tent ropes. And this was in a classy caravan park...not out in the bush. haha, nope, not for me!

Joanna McKenna (author) from Central Oklahoma on August 30, 2011:

Thank you, Don, for stopping by and reading my humorous renderings of nightmares involving tents, bugs, and no indoor plumbing! ;D

Don Bobbitt from Ruskin Florida on August 30, 2011:

Voted UP and Funny. Loved it!

Joanna McKenna (author) from Central Oklahoma on August 18, 2011:

Yes, christopheranton, I did learn my lesson and am also glad I've put another gentle soul off camping for life!

Matty, I *do* appreciate structural evolution...and A/C, ice machines, indoor plumbing. Also places where GIANT crows won't fly off with entire loaves of bread. (Still laughing at that one! Thanks!) ;D

Matt Stupar from Toronto, Canada on August 18, 2011:

That was an amazing story. In three camping trips, I've probably banked about four hours of sleep. In British Columbia, my friend left our tent partially unzipped in a rain storm. We awoke in puddles at 5am, only to discover that GIANT crows were in the process of stealing our bread. One of them just flew off with an ENTIRE loaf!

There's a reason why people started building non-canvas/nylon lodgings, Jama. I think we should both just appreciate structural evolution!

Christopher Antony Meade from Gillingham Kent. United Kingdom on August 18, 2011:

I hope you have learned your lesson now.

Thanks for a very funny article, that has, very usefully, put me off camping for life.

Joanna McKenna (author) from Central Oklahoma on August 04, 2011:

Glad you enjoyed it, Rosemary. Some you say you've had a deprived life if you haven't been camping since you were a child. The rest of us would say "How lucky you are!". Oh, yes - the stories my children will pass down to their children... ;D

Rosemary Sadler from Hawkes Bay - NewZealand on August 03, 2011:

Such an enjoyable read, I couldn't help but laugh.

I haven't been camping since I was a child.

At least you have those memories to sit and reminisce and your children will have stories to pass down to their own

Joanna McKenna (author) from Central Oklahoma on August 01, 2011:

Thanks, Husky! Oddly, kids being kids, mine have nothing but fond memories of the family camping nightmares!

RealHousewife, living in drought-ravaged OK I forget that other parts of the country have been getting too much water this year. There's barely enough water in the rivers around here to float a child's paper boat right now. But when it's isn't flooded out of its banks, the Meramec is truly lovely.

Kelly Umphenour from St. Louis, MO on August 01, 2011:

Everyone makes fun of me for my lady style camping but hey it beats sweating in a tent and waking through the woods to a shower stall:) I did take the girls regular camping and it lasted one night. One child didn't sleep all night because it looked like bugs were crawling inside the tent - she sat Indian style on her cot all night! Poor thing - we packed up and left a day early. I always book at the Holiday Inn Express in Cuba, Mo and we usually float the upper Meramec. It's about 20 minutes to the hotel from there. We also have Huzzah Creek and go there too. We just went to Meramec to float but the river was flooded out of it's banks so I didn't go through with it. The currents were extremely strong and whirlpools were visible everywhere. Not safe for kids - so we just found a spot for wading and I did not see one floater go by. It's been a terrible season this year.

Husky1970 on August 01, 2011:

Obviously, your camping experiences have been quite memorable. A positive will be the number of times that you and others reminisce about those experiences. My family used to camp as well. Right up until 1983 when we bought our first Martha's Vineyard cottage, ironically located in the MVCMA (Martha's Vineyard Campmeeting Association), an area in Oak Bluffs commonly referred to as the Campground. Voted up and funny.

Joanna McKenna (author) from Central Oklahoma on August 01, 2011:

And I'm cracking up about you camping "lady style"! If I were a floater, there'd better be a Holiday Inn close to where I come ashore!

If you don't mind my asking, where do you float? I lived in Columbia years ago and visiting relatives were regularly taken to dip a toe in the (Meramec?).

Kelly Umphenour from St. Louis, MO on August 01, 2011:

This totally cracks me up! I had a similar horrible experience camping in a tent. It rained and too bad our tent was at the bottom of a hill, need I say more? lol I do love to go on float trips - so now I float the 5 or 10 miles and stay at the Holiday Inn afterwards! I call it camping "lady style." It is the best of both worlds plus color tv and a private bathroom! I was laughing all the way though this - oh so sad but funny:) lol

Joanna McKenna (author) from Central Oklahoma on July 22, 2011:

Camping = Sacrifice. For sure! Thanks! ;D

felicitylovespari on July 21, 2011:

When I went to yosemite, we camped the first night. The second night I ponied up the 300 a night for the hotel. I'll leave the camping to the cowboys. Give me the hotel with the large hot tub and the buffet breakfast.

Actually, I really enjoyed it with my family as a kid. There are some pluses to the great outdoors for sure.

But you certainly have to be willing to make some sacrifices.

Joanna McKenna (author) from Central Oklahoma on July 11, 2011:

Peggy, the camper being demolished by a semi would've been the end of camping for me forever! So glad you all survived, even if it did cause the move from Wisc to TX. Happy I could provide you a good laugh, tho, and thanks for the Tweet and mention on FB! ;D

Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on July 11, 2011:

Hahaha! Loved reading this. Brought back memories of my first and last girl scout camping experience. To add to my miseries I instantly came down with poison ivy. When my parents had their first camping trailer...it was demolished by a semi-trucker who had fallen asleep at the wheel. We were all in the station wagon. Injuries...yes! Caused our family move from Wisc. to Texas...but that's another story. My parents finally got a 5th wheeler and then other motor homes. Nice way to camp! That...or the motel or hotel rooms are my "cup of tea" these days. Still laughing over your story! Up and funny!!!!! Also tweeted and Facebooked!

Joanna McKenna (author) from Central Oklahoma on July 10, 2011:

lol! My kids loved them too. Go figure... ;D

Mary Craig from New York on July 10, 2011:

Love your writing style and sense of humor! My camping experiences are right in line with yours. Seems every camping trip we took ended up in the laundromat drying sleeping bags. The only good thing was the kids loved the trips and still speak of the them fondly 35 years later. Great hub.

Joanna McKenna (author) from Central Oklahoma on July 08, 2011:

Dardia, I'm with you on cabins, camping trailers, electricity and indoor plumbing! "Roughing it" doesn't *have* to be...rough. ;D

Darlene Yager from Michigan on July 08, 2011:

I'm with you, I don't think camping is much fun. I don't mind a cabin or camping trailer but I am not much into tents. I prefer having electricity and in door plumbing.

Joanna McKenna (author) from Central Oklahoma on June 29, 2011:

One of the little known but more unpleasant aspects of divorce is splitting from the ex's family too. Some ex-relatives can continue the relationship as if the divorce never happened, but most can't.

Tom Koecke from Tacoma, Washington on June 29, 2011:

I loved my in-laws dearly, but just never saw the sense in roughing it so close to home. If the point were to "get away," it didn't seem logical to do it where the neighbors are twenty-five feet away and the bathroom stank, especially three miles from home!

Still, the memories of my in-laws are good memories. I still see my ex-MIL at functions for my children and grandchild. I still love her, and hope my ex-FIL rests in peace.

And I do wonder about surviving so long, though I was never as crazy as some people I knew, some of whom are also still alive!

Joanna McKenna (author) from Central Oklahoma on June 29, 2011:

Tom, glad I could take you down Memory Lane. Do you ever wonder how (or WHY) you survived the idiocies of your youth?

As for your in-laws camping so close to your house... No way would've I have agreed to give up the comfort of my own bed to sleep on rocks that close to home! Seems like it would've been easier if they'd set up camp in your backyard. Amazing the things we'll do (or used to do) to keep the in-laws happy... ;D

Tom Koecke from Tacoma, Washington on June 29, 2011:

This story brought back so many memories about camping!

The rainy trip was after my junior year in high school. A couple of buddies and I went to the ocean with too few supplies and too much booze. We gathered some wet sticks and used white gas to start a fire to roast hot dogs. We couldn't get the sticks to burn, but managed to catch the white gas on fire. My brave friend decided to snatch the can from the fire, only to learn that the handles are soldered on. He burnt his hand on the handle that detached from the can when the solder melted, and kicked the can over on his way through the fire!

We learned that hot dogs are okay cold if you're drunk enough.

Had to limp my car home with a broken piston. Those slant sixes don't die; they just make noise and burn oil. Thankfully, we still had some wine left as we clanged our way down the highway, so it wasn't all bad!

I never minded going away to camp. I didn't like it so much when my in-laws wanted to camp at a park three miles from home with ten campsites closer than the fence if we had just stayed home. Sleeping on rocks three miles from my bed just didn't seem like it was worth the effort.

Joanna McKenna (author) from Central Oklahoma on June 24, 2011:

Thanks, Dan! If it had been just one bad camping trip, I might feel differently. However, it seemed like the minute any piece of camping equipment was loaded into my car, Camping Gremlins would go on alert and chortle ever so gleefully "Wait until you see what we have in store for you THIS time!". Not included in this hub are our experiences (plural) at one particular campground where no matter the weather forecast, within hours of pitching the tent, storm clouds would roll in, the skies would open, and we'd have to take cover from the monsoon that ensued. ;D

danfresnourban from Fresno, CA on June 24, 2011:

When I was growing up my family had a bad camping trip that we all laugh about now, but it nearly caused us to swear off camping too.

Good article, I really felt the experience you had as I read along.

Joanna McKenna (author) from Central Oklahoma on June 23, 2011:

Thanks for the vote up, outdoorlife, and for taking the time to comment! How lucky you are that tent camping works for you and your family. I suspect I'm just one of those who are hard wired for less primitive forms of relaxation, and without us the hotel industry would surely suffer. ;D

outdoorlife from Ohio, USA on June 23, 2011:

Oh my gosh, I couldn't help but laugh as I read it. I know that camping is not for everyone. But my family and I love to tent camp and enjoy the great outdoors. I gave it a vote up!

Joanna McKenna (author) from Central Oklahoma on June 22, 2011:

Nell Rose, today's caravans (travel trailers) are *nothing* like the one you lived in as a newlywed! In fact, I could happily live the one my cousins in Illinois pull around the country behind a Chevy Suburban. Congratulations that your marriage survived such primitive beginnings! True love for sure!

Nell Rose from England on June 22, 2011:

Hi, I lived in a caravan for the first two years of married life! lol it was about 30 foot long, no main drainage, and a small sink, luckily we had toilets and showers just next door, but it took a lot of getting used to! so much for marrying a romany! ha ha never again! the caravan, not the gypsy! lol

Joanna McKenna (author) from Central Oklahoma on June 22, 2011:

Thanks, Nell Rose! I have all the respect in the world for those who can rough it in the outdoors with grace and aplomb. But like you, I need the comforts of civilization, so why leave it in the first place? ;D

Nell Rose from England on June 21, 2011:

Hi, how funny! lol I was giggling away, especially at the falling asleep on the lilo, and a boat heading for you! or was it the mosquito's? ha ha never again! You have put me completely off, not that I can see myself under a tent roof, It would take me an hour to find a shower, slap on the suntan lotion, slather on the makeup, then it would be time for dinner! great stuff, really made me laugh! thanks rated up! cheers nell

Joanna McKenna (author) from Central Oklahoma on June 20, 2011:

Thanks, Caravan! Under the right set of circumstances, I suspect camping IS the much-needed "liberation from modern unhealthy lifestyles" it's touted to be. Alas, those circumstances never came together for me, mostly because my companions and I ignored forecasts of bad storms or extreme heat. Not a factor when "roughing it" in a hotel. ;D

CaravanHolidays from Wales UK on June 20, 2011:

LOL - I love this hub, and your writing in general, but I couldn't disagree with you more lol - camping is the liberation we need from our unhealthy modern lifestyles

Joanna McKenna (author) from Central Oklahoma on June 11, 2011:

Running with sleeping bags to dry them out! ROTFL!! Thanks for the giggle, but sorry the marriage did better under those conditions.

SilverGenes on June 11, 2011:

I plead youth on that one LOL. He was a veteran camper and I was a neophyte (and both of us under 20) so it was pretty funny. At one point we were on the beaches of Prince Edward Island running with our sleeping bags like superman capes just to dry them out. The marriage did a lot better under those conditions than it did under daily life! :)

Joanna McKenna (author) from Central Oklahoma on June 11, 2011:

SG, I've never understood why anyone would go camping on their honeymoon...other than to see if the marriage will survive under primitive conditions! ;D

SilverGenes on June 10, 2011:

Oh this is too funny! I loved every minute and could nod along several times, especially when it came to the mosquito bait -errr- repellent. The tornado part is a little too exciting for me! Yikes! I went camping for the first time on my honeymoon millions of years ago and woke to a stream rerouting its way through the middle of the old canvas (army surplus) tent. LOL

Joanna McKenna (author) from Central Oklahoma on June 08, 2011:

ethel, glad to know I'm not the only one to have experienced an airbed losing air in the middle of the night! Never used a camp stove, though, for the very reason that they can and do explode. And like you, I prefer more comforts these days. ;D

Ethel Smith from Kingston-Upon-Hull on June 07, 2011:

So funny. Hubby ad I enjoyed camping when we were younger. Even when our airbeds sank in the night and our camp stove exploded lol. These days I prfer more comforts

peanutroaster from New England on May 27, 2011:

I love camping, although the older I get the more cabins or hotels get more and more appealing.

stars439 from Louisiana, The Magnolia and Pelican State. on May 21, 2011:

love it.

Joanna McKenna (author) from Central Oklahoma on May 12, 2011:

celeBritys4africA, you're most welcome! And thank YOU for the thumbs ups!

celeBritys4africA from Las Vegas, NV on May 12, 2011:

I hit the awesome and funny button, your hub make my day!

Joanna McKenna (author) from Central Oklahoma on May 01, 2011:

Gracias, Elena! Wise woman I know you to be, not to mention world traveler who has visited places I'll only ever see in my dreams, I'm thrilled that I've prevented you from experiencing a fate worse than food poisoning at a 5-star restaurant! On the other hand, sleeping under the stars on YOUR terrace could never be considered "camping", only a delightful result of great company accompanied by wayyy too much sangria. Besos! ;D

Elena. from Madrid on May 01, 2011:

Well, damn, I laughed out loud at "was still under the spell of the fallacy drilled into her in childhood that voluntarily foregoing modern conveniences for days at a time was a good thing", and can't go on now, I mean, I've tried "One camping trip..." a few times but I'm assaulted by tons of totally girly giggles that won't let me continue :-) I shall attempt the rest in a while, maybe after I peruse a hub on taxes or, uh, health issues in USA? Hehe

==== Right-O, I'm back! And now I'm not giggling anymore, I'm plain laughing, goddarned be I if I ever again feel the inclination to go camping, either in the back yard or ... or ... or ... terrace.... OR, god help me... in true open fields! Laugh!

Kudos Jama chica, that was a delightful and delightfully funny read.

Joanna McKenna (author) from Central Oklahoma on April 14, 2011:

Thanks, James! btw, if there was no correlation between the size of that spider and your terror on seeing it, it was probably a wolf spider. In which case, you were in no real danger. To my knowledge they don't bite, and only carry off small children. (NOTE: If you ever find one inside your house like I did, a fly swatter is useless. Grab a baseball bat. Seriously. Made quite a mess. I should've called Animal Control instead.)

James A Watkins from Chicago on April 14, 2011:

You are a marvelous writer. Reading your report, I can see why I am no outdoorsman. The last time I was talked into "camping" was in some cabins way out in the woods. The first night I lay down in my bunk I looked up and there hung a spider the size of a softball two feet above my head. And he was looking right at me.

Joanna McKenna (author) from Central Oklahoma on April 11, 2011:

Thanks, tlpoague! In the future you should suggest spending a day in a nice, large city (or state) park. Nowhere in the fine print does it say that enjoying the Great Outdoors or communing with Mother Nature HAS TO include sleeping under the stars! That's only a myth used ad nauseum by retailers to sell camping gear. ;D

Tammy from USA on April 11, 2011:

This was a fun hub to read. I recently had a camping trip simular to this. It seems to be my moto lately...The camping trip from hell. One thing is for sure, at least the kids will have some interesting stories to tell! Great hub!

Joanna McKenna (author) from Central Oklahoma on April 03, 2011:

Hey there, Cindy! Nice to see ya! The Ritz was just a generalization (unless we're talking the Ritz in London...). I've been pampered in places that called themselves "motels", but were actually as nice as any "real" hotel.

Cindy Vine from Cape Town on April 02, 2011:

Camping in a hotel or backpacker or luxury game lodge is more my style. Don't quite need the Ritz.

Joanna McKenna (author) from Central Oklahoma on April 01, 2011:

Nancy, I'm with you on "camping out" at the Ritz, room service, and daily spa treatments!

Nancy's Niche on April 01, 2011:

When I was younger, I loved camping out. My idea of camping out now is a room at the Ritz, with room service, and a daily spa treatment! Great article and fun to read…

Joanna McKenna (author) from Central Oklahoma on April 01, 2011:

Grandson is with his parents, naturally.

De Greek from UK on April 01, 2011:

What happened to our grandson??? :-)

Joanna McKenna (author) from Central Oklahoma on April 01, 2011:

DG, rest assured there will be more soon. Didn't have time to write when I was sharing a house, but now I'm NOT sharing a house and will be treating you (and others!) with more of these "gems". Thanks for noticing! Hope all is well with you and yours.

De Greek from UK on April 01, 2011:

I have missed your writing soooooooo much and getting such a wonderful sample certainly makes wish that you would reconsider your absence from Hubpages and treat us with more of theses gems :-))

Wonderful, wonderful stuff. I have enjoyed every brilliant word! Mooooooooore!!!!! :-)))

Joanna McKenna (author) from Central Oklahoma on April 01, 2011:

Winsome, I've heard that about mosquitoes in TX! But then, isn't everything in TX supposed to be bigger? lol! And I'll bet that 3-week trek WAS a memorable experience for your kids! If they're anything like my kids, one they'd rather not repeat...ever!

As for fifth wheels, I now live in central OK where most of them belong not to retired sun birds, but to oil field workers whose jobs require frequent moves. Fifth wheels, tho, DO require a Chevy Suburban or heavy-duty pickup to pull them. My IL cousins sometime take a compact car along to tool around in wherever they land. But not always, because in transit the extra vehicle has to be hooked to the back of the fifth wheel or driven separately, both options that use more gas. Depends on how long they plan to spend in one place.

But they CAN and do live comfortably in the fifth wheel for several months at a time, something I'd love to do in the future.

Winsome from Southern California by way of Texas on April 01, 2011:

Ha ha, does this ever stir up memories. Very funny stuff JG. I talked my kids into letting me haul them from Pasadena to Canada in a Volkswagen van, stopping in national parks along the way and all the way down the Washington and Oregon coasts. Setting up three tents at night and taking them down again every day for three weeks was actually one of the most memorable times of my (and I'm sure their) lives.

I do have to say the fifth wheel sounds like the way to go now. I would never have attempted camping like that in Texas because the mosquitoes there are so large they have their own landing strips and have been known to carry off small children and livestock.

Thanks for a fun ride. =:)

Joanna McKenna (author) from Central Oklahoma on April 01, 2011:

maggs, glad you enjoyed it! Thanks for stopping by!

susiequeue, I'm with you, so I never encouraged my daughters to join Brownies or Girls Scouts, but neighbors with daughters did. Hence, my youngest became a Brownie for a year or two, and a Girl Scout after we moved to a different part of town, but neither endeared her to camping for the same reasons you mentioned. Was just something to be endured until she was old enough to say "Never again!". ;D

susiequeue from Glasgow, UK on April 01, 2011:

Couldn't agree more, it's certainly not my idea of fun, and as for character building - there must be better, warmer and less damp ways..!