Roughing It – My Backyard Camping Experience

Ol' Green - 1982ish LL Bean Sleeping Bag

On a recent Saturday night we loaded up the family truckster, got off the grid, and bravely went outdoors as a family and camped. Yes, we threw caution to the wind and set out on an adventure like Lewis and Clark or Indiana Jones – mere feet from all modern conveniences at a friends house in the wilds of Franklin.

I have fond memories of camping. My first tent was red and yellow with Cowboys and Indians and I’d sleep in it in the yard most of the night. As an older boy and teen, I’d camp with friends, mostly open air style at the lake. In college I was broke and couldn’t afford proper gear, so I was at the mercy of well outfitted, generous friends. My gear was either from my youth (LL Bean sleeping bagcirca 1982 and still in use!) or Army surplus (ruck sack, canteen).

Now, things are different. My wife bought a 6-man Coleman tent that can go up in about 5 minutes. Each family member has adequate sleeping gear. We have a lantern, flash lights, water bottles and best of all a van to throw it all in and drive reasonably close to a camp site (eliminates need for expensive back pack).

The best part, was that we had fun as a family with friends. The kids ran and played. The adults sat around the campfire and talked about life. As for me, I learned three things about myself and camping in my 40s:

1. I enjoy real mattresses, like the one my wife slept on inside the house next to where we camped – Air mattresses are great, but they are no match for the real thing. Ask my wife. Ask my back.

2. I dislike heat and bugs  – I like climate control and dead bugs, but those are hard to come by when you are roughing it. I’m more likely to camp in the fall and spring.

3. If you sleep with your head down hill you will get a headache – I woke up with my head pointed slightly downhill and a headache….something to do with blood flow, maybe? I must have looked like a potato on a toothpick.


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