It is safe to say that your camping experiences are different from those of most people. From childhood camping and fishing adventures that often ended in asthma attacks to college summers spent working at a Colorado Lutheran camp, you have had both positive and negative experiences with one of America’s favorite past times. All in all, however, you feel that camping is a worthwhile activity, one that can be enjoyed with family, friends, and, sometimes, even with strangers.
According to 47% of adult campers, the single biggest motivating factor in going camping is the joy of camping itself. This must have been true for your parents when you were growing up. With just a small topper on the back of their pickup truck, your father had retrofitted what was usually called a boot to allow you and your sister enjoy the fairly well appointed truck bed while he and your mother took turns driving to summer camping destinations. Often these destinations were no more than a four or five hour drive away, but it could seem like an eternity if you spent too long in the too hot topper area.
Using the boot as an easy access point, you and your sister would take turns climbing into the front of the pick up where the air conditioner would be blowing on high. On the hottest of days your parents made sure that they slid the curtain open to give you some cooled air, but for the most part any comfort you could find in the back was from opening the four small slider windows that were small enough to avoid being dangerous to children, and not quite big enough to really do more than provide fresh air. The camping destination must have been enticing enough for your parents to put up with the fairly constant complaining that you and your sister did on these forced road trips.
You, too, enjoyed the fishing and the freedom of the campgrounds where you stayed, but the combination of heat, humidity, and dust often ended up in one of your too frequent asthma attacks of your youth. Usually one parent would remain at the camping or fishing site with your sister while the other parent ran you into town to get some oxygen, a steroid shot, and a prescription for a foul tasting cough medicine.
Those asthmatic fishing trips of your youth, however, were not enough to sour you to the idea of future camping adventures. When you were in college a Lutheran church camp representative set up an interview location on campus, and without a real plan for anything else to do during the summers after your freshman and sophomore years, you added your name to one of the open time slots. The talk of staying in cabins instead of a camper seemed appealing and the fact that these cabins in Colorado were far from the humid plains of your youth were more than enough to entice you.
At the school year’s end you traveled to the remote mountain camp and began staff training. What followed was the chance to enjoy an outdoor setting that was far from anything that you had ever experienced before. The fact that the Lutheran programming helped you introduce yourself to a group of complete strangers at the beginning of every week added a spiritual dimension that was addictive. When these strangers felt like long time friends by lunch on the second day week after week, you knew that your decision to become a summer camp counselor had been a wise one. With activities as varied as white water rafting, hiking, and evening campfires, it was a difficult place to leave at the end of the too short summer.
In the summer of 2010 you were one of the nearly 40 million people who went on a total of 515 million camping trips. For your small part, you and your husband joined your husband’s family in a 25th anniversary celebration that allowed you to introduce your two daughters to the joys of camping. On this trip your nephews took your family on some fun and exciting boat rides that included both tubing and water skiing. In one weekend, your daughters also became fans of a great American activity: camping.