Past Opinion Articles

Article for the week of 8/14/07

Camping: A term lost to the ages
By, Ezra Paul Mann (Editor and Bug Spray Enthusiast)
Once upon a time it was a badge of honor to “rough it” in the “great outdoors.” Yes sir, men could be men and boys could be boys as we grunted our masculine calls of the wild. Then, one day we got sucked into that all too familiar vortex of technology and the closest most of us come to sleeping out under the stars now is if we happen to stop by the not so wisely put together sporting goods section at Wally World. Why, I’d still be eying that typewriter at the thrift store if I didn’t have this new fangled notebook computer. Perhaps I can bring to light how we fell so far from camping Valhalla.
I believe I’ll start by remembering how it was when I was the same age as the younger whipper snappers. (A truly powerful phrase for showing how much more you know) When I was a small lad the closest thing we had to an entertainment center was a thirteen inch television and that VCR dad got when he worked at JC Penny Pinchers. Sure, we had video games then and it was darn cool to see that white dot move back and forth in a cosmic interpretation of table tennis. We didn’t have those fancy Played Stations or Pretendo GottaTakeaWiiWiis and we were happy with public television! Wait, I was supposed to talk about Camping and somehow got off track in my rant. (Scientists are still uncertain as to how that happens)
Anyhow, I believe that man’s fall from pitching the great tent came around when nature just let us roll right on over it. I mean nature is supposed to be the ultimate in tough machos, taking no business from lazy species. Instead it just lays back and even tries to blend in as we build our cities even bigger with all that spectacular technology. (I mean, despicable) Where are the squirrels protesting with their tiny little signs? They’re gobbling down Twinkies with the Pigeons in New York while they pal around with Ronny McDonaldson.
We also disappointed the camping elders when we took the outdoors out of the wild. Instead of taking just the bare survival necessities we bring along cell phones, GPS navigation, Inflatable Mattresses, MP3 players and bottled water. (Trying not to look too guilty) We’ve become so comfortable with civilization that we’re scared to get back to the basics. If we were ever pushed into a live or die situation our first thought would be what brand of cola to save for last. I don’t need to tell you how often I’ve wanted to walk that extra mile in the heat of summer if it weren’t for my car’s air conditioner.
So, I imagine that this little bit of musing must have you thinking that there can’t possibly be any way to save ourselves from further humiliation. Well, before you turn your hexed box 360s back on I actually think we might be able to save our outdoor souls. (Yeah yeah, quit your grumbling) The key here is that we actually need to take a risk and give up our plushy comforts. You’d be surprised how much you can learn once you get past the rashes, insect bites and lack of bathroom facilities. Heck if we work hard enough, we can call ourselves manly again.
After today’s discussion I’m sure you are simply itching at the britches to get out in the wilderness. Remember that when you camp to respect the area where you plan to stay a night or few. Always keep your campground cleaner than when you got there, check the fire danger before you roast those marshmallows and respect the wildlife nearby. If you have any questions there are usually park rangers of some kind to give you sound advice. Oh and if the forecast predicts sunny weather during your excursion, be prepared to get wet the whole time.

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