Tuesday, July 6, 2021

Five Things You Need When Camping: a Found Article

Photo by Steve Russell, Kansas, December 2020
Usually I write these blog articles, but occasionally I find them. The nucleus of this article I found in a Facebook camping group post . . . which was found by that member from a Tearjerker post . . . and perhaps or probably that post was based on being found somewhere else. So what are these five things needed when camping? Dry sleeping? Clean water? Toothbrush? Read on and find out!

Here's what was posted on the Tearjerker website and then re-posted on the FB camping page: "I often see the question from new owners, 'What do I need?' Having just completed the 60th night of my first trip as a solo, middle-aged female traveler, I have a list of what I found very helpful."
  1. Flexibility: Things will not always go the way you expect. Whatever it is, it’s all good.
  2. Patience: You will have to wait for any number of people or things; take a deep breath or twenty. Oh, just go ahead and start your yoga practice now.
  3. Sense of wonder: Leave the campsite; wander about the place, learn to identify things.
  4. Simplicity: Things need attention. The fewer things you have, the less time you will spend attending to them (and you can go kayaking, hiking, SUPing, birding, etc., see #3).
  5. Gratitude: you are so very lucky to be able to live like this. Never forget your incredible good fortune. Smile at everyone!
The key point expressed is that whatever kind of stuff you bring along when you camp, be sure to also bring the right attitude. That's a pretty abstract pearl of wisdom, though, so the specific five suggestions certainly provides focus.
  • Flexibility
  • Patience
  • Wonder
  • Simplicity
  • Gratitude
The first two qualities, flexibility and patience, seem to go together. Leaving our safe, cozy little space we call home certainly brings change and challenge. We need the ability to adapt to change yet also need the patience to sometimes just hunker down and wait a while to see how things shake out. We can also pair wonder and simplicity because these are also reactions to the world around us. We need to keep alive our ability to be "wowed" when we view a spectacular sunset or wake up to the silence of a new morning. We need to be able to feel wonder at how different yet the same as us the lives of the ancient Anasazi were when we visit Mesa Verde National Park and see the cliff ruins. Feeling wonder, I think, means we have to keep it simple. Simplicity means valuing the basics and not getting too caught up in the drama. Lastly, we need to feel gratitude not just for what we have; we also should feel awe and be grateful for having the capacity to experience wonder and gratitude because that means we aren't too caught up in ourselves. 

Henry David Thoreau emphasized the need for simplicity in his essay "Economy" from his book Walden. This is an interesting essay because it's not about money, or it is, but in a backwards way from how we normally consider the word--and Thoreau wrote about a century and a half ago! Thoreau said that possessions drag you down. Be rich in time, not dollars. Be rich in freedom, not possessions. Be rich in the wonder of the world, not resigned to working like a beast of burden so that you can own a lot of stuff--and a place to keep all that stuff. 

Living in a small space, whether it is a little camper or Thoreau's cabin on Walden Pond, provides an opportunity to discover what is truly important--and it's not stuff, folks. As the saying goes, "The most important things in life are not things." It's our integration and appreciation of life. The outer depends upon the inner. Camping can help us discover and be comfortable with our place in the world. It can provide us with a sense of belonging, that nature is not only around us but also within us. There are no barriers to the open heart. 

Perhaps ultimately "glamping" is not a function of outfitting but of perspective. When John Muir took his blanket, notebook, loaf of bread, and skillet off into the wilderness, he certainly was appreciating the glamour of camping. When we read his writings, we feel that even now over a century after he trekked his treks and wrote about them. I'm glad I found this little online post about five things we need when camping. After all, our brief time here in the world is just one extended camping trip, isn't it? Enjoy the view, love our traveling companions, and find enough inner peace to appreciate and celebrate as we live our lives. We sit around the campfire and enjoy the light and warmth. The light and warmth of the campfire--now or ten thousand years ago--what does it really matter? We are all sojourners in time, and the flickering light of the campfire is as old as creation.

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