I remember as a kid standing in line to ride a roller coaster, then later to see some band or get into a new club but never did I ever think I would have to stand in line for a camping space. The state of camping in the Okanagan has reached critical levels. It should never be the case that you reserve a camping space months in advance, arrive a day early and still need to be put in the overflow camping area.
What’s happened to camping?
Once camping was for the adventurous. You would hike in, pitch a flimsy tent, cook your dinner over a campfire and sleep on the ground. These days with all of our fancy RVs, campsite WiFi and expensive camping gadgets, anyone can camp. And they do. More and more people are embracing the idea of spending time outdoors for their vacation and with all the luxuries available, it’s not a challenge anymore.
Unfortunately, this has not only raised demand for quality camping sites, it’s put camping culture in serious danger. When we were one of the few adventurous campers in a campground, we had something very sacred in common. The outdoors and time away from our urban lives was so important to us that we would brave the elements of wilderness to get it. This would give our temporary retreat a close-knit society feel that allowed us and our children to bond and form relationships with our neighbors.
Now though, you can camp for an entire long weekend without even saying hello to your neighbors parked inches away from you. Campers could even spend the entire time inside their air-conditioned RV watching TV. When I ask RV campers why they camp, the answer is still that it’s cheaper and easier for a get away. But with how much you can spend on camping equipment and the mass movement towards our precious rare campsites (not to mention how much they cost nowadays) I think neither are true anymore. Is camping a satisfying experience this way?
I will confess to recently upgrading to a small trailer from my tenting experience. But I still think it’s important to limit or restrict device use and I believe it should be an opportunity to connect with your surrounding community. And I pounce on any opportunity to be outside in the summer, especially to swim. But it seems that some things I’ve come to love about the camping experience may be at risk.
Maybe we should think back to what we really truly loved about camping as kids. Because when you think about it, camping is about more than just pulling a trailer into a designated campsite. It’s about the satisfying simplicity away from our busy urban lives. It’s about slowing down, turning off the screens and connecting with nature. It’s about having real face to face conversations, watching the sunset and telling stories around the campfire.
If we want to have a satisfying camping trip and provide those memories to our kids, remember what it’s all about. Remember what you really loved about it. Liberate yourself and your family from the screen addiction and allow the opportunity to try something new like paddle boarding or wake surfing. Learn to make a new dish over the camp stove. Introduce yourself to your neighbors and ask if they want to sit at your campfire. Sing. Explore.
Don’t let camping culture die.
Every time a man sees something new in the world, he finds something new in himself. What a man thinks of the trees and birds, of the sea and mountains and the whole panorama of the summer spectacle, is an exposition of himself. What you see reveals you. We do not so much interpret nature ~ for nature needs but little interpretation ~ we interpret ourselves.
-William Chalmers Covert