If you are reading this now, it means I am camping.
Yes, it’s a long weekend here in Queensland, so naturally we’re leaving our comfortable house (hot water, refrigeration, two toilets … BEDS) and heading into the freezing bush to spend three nights huddled around a campfire.
That’s the best case scenario.
If the forecast of ‘chance of showers’ runs true to form, we’ll be huddled under dripping canvas reading my friend Robin’s collection of ‘Hello,’ magazines, nicked from her workplace. Good times.
Do you see the weirdness of this situation? Four families, all with solid homes in peaceful suburbs, CHOOSING to spend their leisure time boiling drinking water and queuing for composting toilets.
From my place in the queue I often ponder what people not so fortunate would think of us and what we do in the name of fun.
In many parts of the world, living under temporary canvas shelters is normal. People don’t do it for fun. They dream of clean beds and hot showers. They’d love to bath their children in warm, soapy water, while we leave home with the intention of seeing our kids get filthy.
I wouldn’t say we’re seasoned campers, but once or twice a year for the last 10 years we’ve spent a full day packing and a full day washing for the dubious pleasures of camping. In that time I’ve learned the following truths:
1. Even if you hate the very idea of camping, never go for, ‘just one night’. Insist on a three night minimum. The amount of packing and cleaning up is the same for a week as for one night. You need to make the window of enjoyment as wide as possible.
2. At least one couple will have a major bust-up over a misplaced torch.
3. Composting toilets are not odourless. And when you find yourself in a queue behind a fella with the Sunday paper folded under his arm, you’re in big trouble.
4. All children are pyromaniacs. Most men too.
5. Children who have not wet the bed for years are very likely to wet the sleeping bag.
6. It takes three days, or the duration of your camping trip (whichever is the greater) to get a sleeping bag dry. The wee smell is there forever.
7. No one knows where the Stingose is.
8.Even if you never have sex, you will have it less while camping.
9. All children know a rude version of ‘On Top Of Spaghetti’. As long as your kid’s is not the rudest, don’t worry about it.
10. There will be bogans in the campsite next to yours. This is fact, not snobbery. Even bogans think the campers next to them are bogans.
11. At some point you will need to ask the bogans how to connect the gas bottle. So be nice.
12. No matter how many tea-towels you pack, you will not have enough.
The fact that we are troubled by wet tea-towels is evidence of our pathetic first-worldness. But every year I go back for more, and I look forward to it. Seriously, I do. It’s the novelty of doing things differently. It’s fun to sit huddled in a sleeping bag by the fire late at night, sorting the world’s problems fuelled by Tim Tams and red wine.
Camping tops my list of things we choose to do that are uncomfortable, expensive and possibly in our spare time. Here are three more:
• Obstacle Course Racing: This is such a THING now. Inspired by military training courses, it seems thousands are giving up perfectly good weekends to climb up nets, crawl through mud-pits and trudge over rocky hills.
Not doubting the fitness benefits, but if you told an actual soldier that you were PAYING to do it at 6am on a Sunday morning when no one is actually shooting at you, they might think you were a little shell shocked. Without having ever been shelled.
• Eating like a caveman: Otherwise known as the Paleo Diet. That’s meat, veg, fruit, grains and nuts. No bread. No chocolate. No sweet chilli sauce. There’s no doubt it’s healthy but didn’t we evolve so we could have, you know, some Vegemite toast once in a while?
Enjoy our bit of bison with a blob of sauce? Sure the processing pendulum, has possibly swung too far but I’d say if Fred Flintstone got his hands on a sausage roll he’d swap his brontosaurus burger in a heartbeat.
• Collecting things: Having never been a collector, I admire the dedication required to sniff out that missing teaspoon or another thing bearing a duck motif, but I admit I’ve never understood the satisfaction a collector feels when she stands back and says, ‘Yes. There it is. The quirkiest pepper-grinder this side of Pepperville, Indiana.’
What do you enjoy doing that makes zero sense to others?