Tag Archives: campfire

How to Know a Camper

Showerhead

Showerhead (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Know what’s awesome? Camping. But if you take awesome and multiply it by spectacular, you get the feeling you have after you take a shower in your own bathroom at your own house after a weekend of camping.

Maybe it’s because I know my feet will still be clean in an hour. (Campers shower, throw flip-flops on and head back outside.). Maybe it’s that I can take my time and not worry about a gray water tank filling up or whether I brought enough quarters to the campground shower to get the conditioner out of my hair. I’m not sure exactly what makes such a mundane, daily task become so absolutely, beautifully blissful after a weekend camping. I am sure that the only comparable feeling is taking ski boots off after a long day of skiing.

Anyway, while in the shower on Monday after arriving home from a Labor Day weekend spent camping, I got to thinking about how some phenomena, like the blissful shower, are specific to camping.

It got me thinking about a few little quirky things about my family and me that are a result of camping. If I noticed these traits on another woman, I’d know she was a fellow camper.

Here are a few – what other ways can you tell someone is a camper even when they aren’t near their tent or camper?

1. Her infant or toddler’s stroller smells like beer. (Strollers have cup holders for a reason, but campground roads are often bumpy and some spillage can occur. Every weekend camping I spill a little adult beverage on the stroller and can never quite get it out and wonder if people in my neighborhood or other parents at the park secretly wonder what is in Buster’s sippy cup.)

2. After a long weekend, it looks like her face, shoulders and feet went on a posh tropical vacation but they left her back, legs, and stomach behind. The tan lines on the feet will likely look like flip-flops and may appear darker due to residual camping dirt. If her children are over 7, she may have a tanned area on each leg between her knees and shorts. This is because after your children are 7 can MAY be able to find time to sit down in daylight while camping. Her husband’s tan lines will be similar but if he has short hair, the term “red neck” can be quite literal and allegorical at the same time.

3. Her children look like they’ve contracted some horrible infectious skin disease, but it’s just mosquito bites and dirt stuck to the roasted marshmallow left on their faces.

4. At sporting events or the park or wherever, when bad weather strikes, she’s prepared for it with a rain poncho, umbrella or other gear she grabs from her car. When she takes out said gear, everyone starts sniffing and asking if something is on fire. Alas, it is just aforementioned gear’s residual campfire odor.

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How I Don’t Camp

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Since I plan to keep blabbing on about camping in my “motorhome stuff” section, I thought it would be fun to tell you a little more about the type of camping we do.

There’s about 100 or so of us who go on the three big summer holiday weekends. (It’s a long story on how we got together, but basically it involves a family of 10 brothers and sisters and their children and friends and at this point, their children’s children and friends’ children’s children. I’m related by marriage to one of the 10.) After an exhaustive search (on my phone while I fed the baby) I realized that there are lots of types of camping that have names that we don’t do but that there is no official term for what we do. Our camping vessels vary, but we all have a similar idea on what our camping is. Since I couldn’t find a word for what we do, I thought I’d tell you about all the named camping types we don’t do:

We Have Way Too Much Crap To Go Backpacking

There are people who head out to spend one or more nights out in the wilderness, or at least a state park, with only what they can carry on their back. I have backpacked and definitely intend to do so again, preferably up some snow-capped peak in summer. I have a feeling that if you asked most of those in our group about backpacking, though, you would hear things like “tiring,” “how am I supposed to carry all my beer in a backpack?” “you want me to poop where?” and “what on earth could possibly be so interesting that I have to walk 2 days to get to?” Amenities we rely on such as microwaves, stoves, blenders and the like are impossible to bring so this isn’t something many in our group would consider. The same is true for offshoots of backpacking like canoe or kayak camping, bicycle touring, etc. and while some folks go out into the woods with llamas or other pack animals, you’ll just find dogs amongst us.

We Are Near Cars but Aren’t Car Campers

No matter what we’re camping in, we’re always close to our cars. But I don’t think it’s called car-camping, because the people I’ve heard use that term are comparing those folks to people who do hike out then sleep. And it seems those “car-campers” are camping close to where one hikes. The people I camp with don’t hike anywhere unless you count a trip to a body of water, the store, the arcade, or to a neighboring camper’s site where there is a keg or other adult beverage.

We Are Glamorous and Camp but Lack the Vintage Fabric and Butlers of Glamping

Some folks think glamping means staying in a really fancy camper with marble and stuff – and some of my fellow campers definitely have these features in their campers. We even eat pretty well on these trips- filet, seafood buffets, fruit pizza, upscale cheese with crackers. My husband has been known to break open ridiculous wines and other spirits. Still, this is not glamping. Besides, there is also a lot of PBR with burgers and dogs on our trips.

Other people say that it’s when you stay at a campground without a camper, like in a cabin rental. I think that’s just trying camping. Some campgrounds do offer glamping (for instance, Normandy Farms in Massachusetts has a yurt.)

To me, the term glamping connotes a unique abode- an Airstream, yurt, canvas tent, teardrop camper, etc. parked in a pretty location and revamped to feature retro or other glamorous decor and including five star service. I have no idea why I haven’t glamped yet. It is very visually pleasing, so of course I made a Glampalicious Pinterest board to show you. Anyway, this does not describe our group.

Although We’ve Been Known to Commute From Camping We Are Not Workampers

To be honest, the first time I heard this term, “workamper,” Snoop Dogg came to mind. Travelling around the country working out of a motorhome is what Snoop does. I couldn’t find any details on his tour bus, I’m guessing he’s particular about who comes aboard after several tour bus busts. I did see Zac Brown Friday night and wish we’d brought our motorhome to the casino. He (Zac) also works out of a motor home, check it out here on HGTV’s Celebrity Motor Homes. Actually, the term “workamper” is reserved less for celebrities and more for folks who work at campsites and parks to support a full-time RV lifestyle.

Due to the varied nature of our jobs, we have been known to drive from the campsite to work. I think I disappointed a dealership manager once. He prepped to really verbally skin my hide after viewing Facebook pics of me camping on a Friday night before a busy sale Saturday, assuming I’d left for the weekend. When I showed up early on Saturday refreshed and only smelling slightly of campfire, he had to find something else to yell about. Other than times like that, our group tries not to mix working and camping.

Only A Couple of Us Have Motor Homes and No One is Full-Time Yet

And although we have a motorhome, don’t confuse us with full-time RVers (although we have some in our group that are close). Full-timers don’t really have an immobile home to go to, they travel around the continent living out of their RVs. Usually, like workampers, these are fortunate retirees. Awesome, living -the-dream retirees in rigs rivaling celebrity tour buses. This does not describe most of our group- some of those in our group are even still in tents. Most are in varying sizes of travel trailers. Actually, of the 20-30 sites in a typical camping trip, you will find 3 have motor homes. Two are pretty sweet, newer Class A models (that’s the one that looks like a tourbus.) Ours is a Class C, which is the one that looks like a truck with a camper permanently attached. It’s old enough to drink. (That’s the back of it you see in the highway pic that’s part of the Motor Mommy header.)

The Nameless Camping We Do

On these big holidays, I think we camp to live near each other for the weekend. Our children play together all day. We all take advantage of whatever facilities the campround offers- sometimes pools or ponds, arcades, hayrides, fishing, horseshoes, bingo, and sometimes a dance at night. Sometimes we set up our own games of Can Jam or bocce. We wander from site to site seeking shade or conversation. Usually we eat meals separately, although potlucks are a new phenomenon for us.

Each night have a huge campfire where people from several generations and pretty much all walks of life gather and talk about just about anything. (Our Memorial Day Trip had people from 3 weeks old to 90+. They are teachers, nurses, business owners, salespeople, engineers, bus drivers, bartenders, IT specialists and lots more.) As the night wears on, some of the oldest and youngest and parents facing a young child’s dawn awakening head to their own campsites to bed. The rest stay up until all hours hanging by the fire or playing cards. Like primetime TV, if you let your kids stay up past 9 or 10, they’re going to be exposed to some less-than-wholesome language and antics. We try not to be too loud and respect the other campers. Sometimes we get a little crazy and can’t go back to that campground.

In between the big group holiday trips, we go alone or in smaller groups to enjoy campground amenities or to be near an attraction like an amusement park, beach, or NASCAR race. The activities at the campground are the same as when we’re in the group and there’s still no word for it, I don’t think. Some of us will even make the family vacation camping, like we did.

This type of camping can be as cheap or as expensive as you want it to be. Gear for tenting will run you probably a couple hundred dollars. A pop-up starts around $1000-$2000 used. A new, fully equipped Class A will put you over six figures. Rates at these types of campgrounds range $25-$100 per night depending on location and amenities. Even at the fanciest resort-style campgrounds, which feature multiple pools, hot tubs, and a plethora of planned activities, tents are welcome. If you decide to give it a shot, you won’t be alone- camping in general is growing in popularity. In this tough economy people still want to escape with their family.

If you think you’d prefer to camp with others but weren’t born into a huge group like I was, there are camping clubs you could join. Or ask your friends to come; they’d like it, too. Even by yourself you’re liable to meet some good people or better yet, just enjoy time with your family.

It’s a lot of fun and I think everyone should try it. Maybe we could call it Jenn Camping from this point on. No? Okay, but you should still come.

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