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Is Camp A Four-Letter Word?

Aug 18, 2007
To me camp is a four-letter word. To my husband and older son it's a secluded site nestled into scenic mountains. It's invigorating, fresh air and a gurgling, fish-laden stream. It's food that tastes better because it's cooked outside and it's camaraderie sitting around a blazing fire. It's not that for me. I wouldn't expect that kind of experience unless I was camping with Smokey the Bear.

When I was six or seven, I asked for a tent for my birthday. I can still see it - a yellow, four-person tent, which was pitched between the garage and the swing set. I begged to sleep in it the first night, but I didn't sleep. In stead, I thought about bugs and spiders and other creepy crawlies - possibly poisonous creepy crawlies. My salvation was my mother, who brought me inside. The tent's salvation was - the Salvation Army.

Since then my camping experiences have been inside. There was the winter my husband and I almost froze to death sleeping in the top of an A-frame cabin. Our friends, who were sleeping below, assured us heat rises. They were wrapped in an electric blanket. There was no heat to rise.

Then there was the time we were traveling in Northern California. Because we had our dog with us, we had to stay in a "less fancy" motel. After settling into its "rustic setting", I realized what I thought was a pattern on the wall was actually squashed bugs.

I got so tired of bugs when we were traveling in rural Africa I finally complained. The man who had carried our luggage into the "lodge" tried to solve the problem by offering to leave a very large lizard in our room.

It wasn't bugs that bugged me in Mexico. My problem at a seaside resort there was a crab that crawled up through the shower drain.

Friends have suggested RV camping would solve my problems. No. An RV is a house on wheels. I'd be bringing household problems with me.

I didn't think camping was problem-free until my sons were old enough to go and my husband and I were free to travel. The boys started in day camp and grew into overnight camp. My older son grew into a camp counselor. My younger son didn't. Because I felt genetically responsible for his thinking camp was a four-letter word, he took the "am" out of camp.
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KNIGHT PIERCE HIRST takes humorous looks at life.
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