73: Camping 101

73: Camping 101

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Just Us Girls

Camping 101

Camping: The art of getting closer to nature while getting farther away from the nearest cold beverage, hot shower and flush toilet.

~Author Unknown

Anyone who’s known me for more than five seconds knows I’m not an outdoor person. I love the beauty of nature, but I prefer to see it from the comfort of a beautiful hotel window, or in a beach-facing restaurant while I’m eating brunch.

Somehow, however, I’ve always surrounded myself with girlfriends who are nature lovers. No… nature freaks! You know, those people who enjoy hiking, dirt trails, swimming in lakes — which I fondly refer to as “nature water” — and the like.

In college, I had a tireless group of girlfriends who begged me to experience the great outdoors with them. I finally relented and agreed to go (gulp) camping for the first time!

We decided to stick fairly close to home, in case I decided to chicken out and go home early. We drove the forty-five minutes up the mountain to Upper Oso Campground. It was a Friday night and almost dusk. My girlfriends immediately went to work. They scurried around unloading supplies, setting up tents, building a campfire, and whatever else nature freaks do to get ready for camping. What a lot of work!

I decided I’d better pitch in, so one by one, I asked my friends if there was something I could do to help. Knowing that I was not the outdoor type and that I didn’t know Thing One about camping, each of my friends replied with a “we’ll get this” attitude, and dismissed me. I wouldn’t give up! I figured as long as I’d agreed to this adventure, I was going to do it whole-heartedly. I continued to offer my assistance until they finally caved and agreed to let me put the food away for the night.

Nightfall. Tents up, check. Campfire burning, check. Lanterns in place, check. Food put away, check! It was time to relax by the fire. There we stayed for hours — just us girls talking, laughing, and sharing our most intimate secrets. That’s what girlfriends do when we are out in nature. Discussing very important things that college girls do, well into the night. We learned so much about each other. Lots of family stories, what we all planned to do after college, what inspired us, and what turned us off… which led back to the discussion of me not liking the outdoors. How, by the way, was I enjoying it so far? So far, so good.

One by one, we all turned in. I slept pretty well in my tent, complete with an air mattress and sleeping bag that had been wrapped around a rock that had been heated by the campfire (learning camping tricks already). Hmmm — maybe this wasn’t so bad. I drifted off and thought of a delicious breakfast at the picnic table, under a canopy of oak trees. Really, this camping thing wasn’t too bad after all.

The next morning, I woke to the sound of my friend Adrienne, yelling, “Hey! Where’s all the food?” I quickly unzipped my tent and went over to the picnic area. By now, the others had gathered and were asking the same question. As I walked over, they all looked at me. “Crescent,” they asked, “did you put away the food last night?” Of course I did! I put it all into the brown paper grocery bags, rolled the bags up tightly so no bugs could get in, and set the bags on the picnic table. They all stepped aside, giving me a clear view of the table, and there, amongst the shredded paper bags, was one lonely bagel with a single, tiny little bite taken out of it. Nothing else remained.

My girlfriends and I sat down around the picnic table, discussing which of us (me, of course) would drive back into town to get more food. As we were in the middle of our discussion, a tiny little squirrel ran past us, dragging an entire bagel through our campsite. We began laughing hysterically at what I’d done and it was at that moment that my nature freak friends and I decided I was hereby excused from any future nature trips. Thank goodness for that!

~Crescent LoMonaco

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