Perspectives: Camping is awesome. In theory.

Stock image, St. George News

OPINION – It’s not that camping doesn’t sound fun. The idea of camping is great. It’s just the actual camping at which I grimace.

I loved it as a kid. Then I realized that it was my parents who actually did all of the work. And now I have become the parent.

What woman wouldn’t get giddy with excitement over the prospect of squeezing her mile-wide mom hips into a sleeping bag fit for a small Asian child? Why must camping include sleeping like entombed mummies? After a “restful” night’s sleep, who wouldn’t love an uphill hike to the nearest port-a-potty for an adventure in outdoor “plumbing?”

Camping is the “pioneer boot camp” for moms. I spend days shopping, gathering, washing and shoving hundreds of items into the car. We are prepared for everything from a hangnail to a major tsunami. The ice chests are filled with 400 sodas and our overburdened SUV carries us away with smiling faces and dreams of high adventure.

I do enjoy parts of our little “end of the world” simulation activity. The fresh air is amazing, the Disney Channel is nonexistent and the cell phones have no coverage. That is the holy grail of happiness for moms.

When “operation camp setup” is complete and the last gnat has been brushed away from my teeth, I like to sit and stare into the fire. It’s the moment that I finally exhale. I’ve done it. I’m camping. I’m wearing my designated outdoor apparel. My special “camping outfit” has been patiently waiting for this moment of stardom. I slip into my faded “mom” jeans, blow the dust off my flannel shirt and now I am one with the forest.

I revel in my womanhood as I peel 25 pounds of potatoes with a toothpick and a plastic fork when the utensils were left behind.  After five hours of cooking over a smoke-filled fire and washing the dishes over an inadequately small bucket, I start to envy the “RV elitists” with their darned refrigeration and carpeting. I scramble to find enough baby wipes to fake a shower and try to pretend my broken camping chair has a fourth leg that will hold me.

Camping is like an exercise in homelessness. We load up our gear, pretend to be without a home for the weekend and call it a fun-filled vacation. Maybe next year we could top this vacation by sleeping under a bridge.

The Dalley Family camping, San Diego, California, May 23, 2010 | Photo courtesy of Kate Dalley, St. George News

As we head for home, the tired, dirt-filled faces of my children fight over the last piece of licorice.  I dream of a bubble bath, handfuls of ibuprofen and enough Calgon to whisk me away.

Everyone scatters as if under mortar attack as we hit our driveway and I am left alone, staring endlessly at the mounds of dirty, muddy laundry waiting to be washed, and a car packed to high heaven with camping gear.  I suddenly wish for the “unloading fairies” to magically appear.

Camping is like giving birth – if you wait long enough to plan your next camping adventure, you just may forget how much work it actually entails. Years down the road, if enough times passes, you will remember camping with fondness. And then you will sit and secretly smile at the notion of your own kids growing up and taking THEIR kids camping.


Kate Dalley is a news commentator and co-host of the Perspectives morning show on Fox News 1450 AM 93.1 FM. The opinions stated in this article are hers and not representative of St. George News.

Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @STGnews

Copyright 2012 St. George News.

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  • travis June 8, 2012 at 9:47 am

    With all the technology these days, and busy lives. It’s refreshing that some people even camp anymore. I loved it as a kid. I love it as an adult. I feel sad for this generation because most kids just sit in their houses all day long.

  • Murat Meidani June 8, 2012 at 10:28 am

    I am a homeless in America. It is no walk in the park. When I go to sleep, I worry that I will be murdered. I have to walk far to find a toilet and have defecated myself more than once trying to make it. Everyone who see me, they laugh and make fun. And these tourist, these suburban city slickers, they call the police if they see a homeless out there, when he is camping just like them. It is stupid. The police are mean thugs who treat me like I am not human like them. I get so angry at them and want to beat them with stick. They say get up out of here. Where can I go?

  • Kelli June 8, 2012 at 11:47 am

    HAHA! Awesome article! I myself laugh over the ludicrousness of camping, and yet year after year, we pack it up and head to the mountains! Between my fiancee and I we have

  • Kelli June 8, 2012 at 11:48 am

    oops…the rest of my comment was going to say we have 2 homes: 7 bedrooms, 5 bathrooms, and yet we still insist on sleeping on the ground. LOL

  • Greg June 8, 2012 at 4:51 pm

    There is something very special about sitting with family around a campfire at night. Just staring into it and talking until all the coals have burned out. Can’t wait to go camping this summer. Thanks Kate!

  • Tyler June 9, 2012 at 10:16 am

    My family made camping a part of life when i was a young kid. Now, it has gone to extinction and not even known by the youngsters who have only heard about it. We’re all just a bunch of city people now, caught up in our everyday lives and typing comments like this right here. I haven’t left the city of St. George for years now, so overdue for a vacation or some fresh mountain air. Times have changed so much, so rapidly 🙁

  • urbanboy June 9, 2012 at 10:28 am

    What’s camping? …Ohh, is it sleeping out on the front lawn on those warm summer nights under the street light?

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