Monday, June 27, 2011

Why do people go camping?

We pulled into the Waterloo campground with a Jeep crammed full of enough stuff to stay a year and an old pop-up camper bouncing along behind it. The place was packed; dirty kids running around screaming and so many dogs tied up you would think this is where all rednecks in the state of Michigan come to gather for some sort of yearly ritual. There was a mix of expensive campers, cheap tents and strange lawn ornaments set up to make each camping space appear unique by their weekend inhabitant. Signs carved from heavily stained wood in the shape of the Michigan mitten with words like "camper sweet camper" and "Welcome to Bob and Sue's." It was a strange culture indeed. I have never been camping in a 'regular' campground with community showers and bathrooms, marked off lots with fire pits and an adorable paved winding road connecting the community of campers with kids of all ages racing bikes up and down from dawn till well past dark. I laughed as we first pulled in and proclaimed we needed to leave promptly; it was organized chaos everywhere I looked. We only lived 20 minutes away, why was I giving up my bed, personal bathroom and full refrigerator to stay 2 days in an old ripped up camper with just a cooler and fold out chair in this bizarre place?

We unpacked the kid, dogs and chairs and settled in. We built a fire and then sat and stared at it for a while. Ok, here we are. We're camping. Now what? We watched what appeared to be a dog show parade up and down the adorable road; Chihuahuas leading their owners that also somewhat resembled the look of a Chihuahua. Obese labs getting their first walk of the year and panting heavily. Hyper Boston Terrier's whining at each passing person and getting on everyone's nerves (ok, that might be my dog).

We met up with some relatives of ours that stayed just a few lots down and had coffee together, then joined back up to share a dinner over the fire, each person contributed something to the meal; taco salad, hot dogs, potato salad, grilled vegetables (for those of us afraid of hot dogs) chips, candy. Meals consisted of anything that could be cooked over a fire or easily assembled from cooler items on a picnic table.

And this is what we did for two straight days. Sat around, ate, watch dogs and kids pass by. Went to the little beach on Sugar Loaf Lake that bordered the campground. And then ate some more. It felt strange the first day, being part of a community like this. It's not that I had not camped before, I just never camped at an actual family campground. I never knew this many people gathered in one area, likely just few miles from their own comfortable home to sleep in campers and eat all weekend. Why? As you look around, what's different here than from being at home? Families were actually talking to each other and spending time together. Everyone was sitting on their 'lawns' and greeting other campers as they went by. I did not see one tv, laptop or video game, even cell phones didn't get service. Kids were getting exercise and socializing with the other camper kids. Everyone had 'unplugged' from their lives and were finding other things to do to entertain themselves. When you look deep enough, it really is a refreshing sight. Our camper is old, not that comfortable and tight on space, but getting out of our house and the daily rituals of checking email, watching tv, texting and cleaning it felt good to just let my daughter run around dirty, eat junk food and completely unplug from our lives. I would say I'm eager to do it again.


Steven said...

Most people go to drink and sit around. :) We're going this weekend. But we are traveling 3 hours from home to do it. Glad you have fun!!

Post a Comment