Camping is not for city slickers or sissies

Camping looks like fun.

Photographs of camping show woodland scenes, glistening lakes, pristine beaches and snow-capped mountains.

Many people enjoy camping.

What the photographs do not show is the biting insects, the gritty sand invading everything, the poison ivy, the oppressive heat or biting cold. Nor do photographs communicate the tiring work of unpacking and setting up a tent, nor finding clean water, or packing it all up again for the next leg of the journey.

I didn't experience camping for the first 24 years of my life, but experienced it in depth when in 1982 when I travelled 4,400 miles from Arkansas to California sleeping in the back of a pickup truck under a camper shell.

We camped. I believe we stayed in hotels two nights of the 10-day trip.

The travel was beautiful and sights were splendid. I enjoyed seeing much of the United States I'd not seen before.

But, camping also exposes one to extreme heat or cold and the lack of indoor plumbing.

In 1987, just two weeks before our third child was born, I tried camping again. I must confess, that with a 34-month-old and a 18-month-old, I found it challenging. We camped in a tent in late June on Beaver Lake. It was hot. I was hot and miserable and probably cranky.

Multiple trips to the outdoor bathroom facilities all day and night were tedious.

At one point, someone said: "I don't know why you're not having fun."


Being heavily pregnant in the summer is trying at best, but trying to prepare meals and take care of a toddler and pre-schooler in the heat without the benefit of running water was certainly trying my patience. (On hindsight, maybe it also built character, but that was certainly not my perspective back then.)

I enjoy nature and the beauty of the different geographic areas available nearby. Hiking and boating and enjoying the outdoors is pleasurable. But, I must admit I've not become an aficionado of primitive camping.

My grandparents "camped" in their retirement years (although Granddaddy did not ever retire and was working in his jewelry shop days before he died in his mid-80s). Their form of camping was driving a huge, luxurious recreational vehicle around the country.

Several times, they put the RV on a train car taking advantage of a program then offered, and traveled around Mexico and Canada.

I certainly applaud those who like to camp. I am a bit envious of their adventurous spirits and esprit de corps. Truly, it is probably a fantastic family past time.

Guess I'm just a fuddy duddy or city slicker.

This fall, as the temperatures become more moderate, I may enjoy taking the grandchildren on short hikes to enjoy nature. But, nighttime will find me back in the comfort of home with running water and modern conveniences.

Happy camping to those of you who enjoy it!

Editor's note: Annette Beard is the managing editor of The Times of Northeast Benton County, chosen the best small weekly newspaper in Arkansas for five years. A native of Louisiana, she moved to northwest Arkansas in 1980 to work for the Benton County Daily Record. The opinions expressed are those of the author. She can be reached at [email protected].