When I was a kid, I loved reading about Laura Ingalls Wilder and her adventures on the prairies of Minnesota. I devoured the books and delighted in watching the television series that depicted a cute, bucktoothed girl in braids skipping through life on the banks of Plum Creek. I wanted to be the girl who went fishing after school, and I envied their covered-wagon mode of transportation.
But here’s the thing: Watching a television series about a pioneer girl is one thing. Actually living like one in the modern day, what with air conditioning and indoor plumbing being an actual thing now, is ridiculous.
Camping is awful.
Frankly, I’m not sure why anyone would choose to pack up their possessions, drive to the woods, unpack it all, and live like a bunch of Neanderthals for three days. And I don’t know about you, but I’m not okay with a thin piece of nylon being the only thing between me, my kids, and a giant-ass grizzly bear.
I fucking hate camping.
But my family loves it, and therein lies the problem.
My husband and kids yammer on about how it’s amazing to wake up and watch a sunrise by a lake. They talk about “unplugging” and being so close to nature that you feel like Snow White. And they go on and on about how great hot dogs taste when roasted on a fire that took four hours to construct because no one in our family had the wherewithal to pack matches.
I think the reason my family loves camping is because I do all of the work and preparations to make sure we don’t have to eat goji berries and tree bark when we are living with Yogi Bear and Boo-Boo in the woods. They have no idea how much actual planning goes into packing a portable household and dragging it to the middle of nowhere. They have no idea how many marshmallows have to be purchased, and they can’t possibly know just how many baby wipes are necessary to prevent everyone from getting crotch rot.
And there’s so much folding. And unfolding. And folding again. When you arrive at your campsite, you unfold the tent and spend approximately 72 minutes figuring out where the fuck the poles actually go. And after three days of bunking with your now smelly family, you have to spend another 72 minutes deconstructing your home sweet wilderness and fold the tent up. And of course, when you get home, you have to air that fucker out because it now smells like pioneer sweat and charred hell. So you spend another 72 minutes setting it up. And then taking it down. All told, dealing with the goddamned tent is 288 minutes I’ll never get back again.
Camping is stressful.
When my family insists that we take a sojourn into the woods, my biggest stress is the bathroom situation. At the risk of TMI, I am what’s known as a “home pooper,” and people, hear me: Latrines are not the place I’m most comfortable dropping a deuce. As if camping constipation isn’t bad enough, I wind up waking up at 2 a.m. and playing the “How badly do I need to pee?” game. I have to ask myself, on a scale of 1 to “I’m going to wet my sleeping bag” how necessary is it for me to find my glasses and flashlight, trudge to the bathrooms in the dead of night and squat over something that smells like a water buffalo’s asshole. I don’t need this kind of stress in my life, I tell you.
Camping is annoying AF.
I have a theory that air mattress makers purposely poke teeny-tiny air holes in every mattress they manufacture. Air mattress factories are undoubtedly filled with employees armed with pins who giggle all day long about the stupid schmucks who drag their products into the woods. I have yet to buy an air mattress that doesn’t have a hole in it, and I’ve yet to meet someone who has purchased one that doesn’t leak. And don’t give me that horseshit about real campers sleeping on the ground under the stars. If I’m going to be stuck in a nylon bedroom, I am not going to sleep with a giant rock in my shoulder blades all night long.
Hats off to those who can go camping and actually enjoy it. I am simply not that person, and I make no apologies for disliking hair that smells like a campfire for a week and not wanting to eat food prepared with tiny grills and utensils that fit in my pocket. And unless it involves a tricked-out, rock star style diesel bus parked next to a Starbucks and with adequate Wi-Fi, you can rest assured it will not be me sitting at the next campsite strumming my guitar and singing Kumbaya.
You are on your own, family. Because camping fucking sucks.