Camping

Five minutes before the rain begins

“Hey Sam, guess where we’re going on holiday this year?” asks my mum.

“I don’t know – somewhere nice like France?” I reply.

“No, we’re going to spend some quality time in a field with terrible facilities, and there is a strong likelihood it’s going to rain! We’re going camping!”

The above conversation is one of a select few which would lead me to either institute my parents in an asylum, or call a government service about child abuse. I hate camping with a passion and view being forced to partake in it as close to abusing my human rights.

Partly the reason I harbour such an intense hatred for camping comes from the Duke of Edinburgh award scheme. The Duke of Edinburgh scheme is “character building”, a phrase seemingly only used to describe something which is hateful and painful – normally by old men who pretend that they fought in the war. Walking through boggy marshes in the rain, carrying the equivalent of an Olsen twin on your back and being shouted at by the rest of the group for getting lost on an out-of-date map isn’t my idea of fun. Moreover, this isn’t even the camping part of the experience. Pitching a tent in the rain means that everything inside that needs to be dry gets wet, so you can relax and struggle to sleep in sodden clothes that night. Luckily, I did my Silver in Wales, so at least we could consistently expect it to lash it down every single day.

Even if conditions are ideal, which they obviously never will be in the UK, camping will still be rubbish. Firstly, if you go camping you might as well forget about sleep. I have never ever enjoyed “sleeping rough”, because a karri mat is never a proper substitute for a mattress. Theoretically you could use blow-up mattresses, but I’ve personally never had the patience or will for them, and I count them as cheating. The alternatives to camping, hotels, are so much better it’s barely a comparison. Warmth, nice beds (well, better than karri mats at least), the quiet (sometimes), room services – all elements that camping cannot offer. What camping can offer is dampness, insects, bird song at 5am, a claustrophobic sleeping bag, the cooking of food over an inadequate fire and the company of hippies who actually enjoy it. Hippies who claim that mankind needs to get back to nature, despite the fact that the human race deliberately left the cave in search of better shelter and plasma television.

Hippies also tell me that camping can be romantic. I genuinely have a book in my room titled How To Have Sex In The Woods, bought mainly out of interest that the author managed to fill 191 pages on this topic. I bring this up because the author thinks the great outdoors is the perfect place to rekindle romance: she is obviously wrong, as there is nothing romantic about having to relieve yourself in a bush. On the other hand, I can understand why camping can be sociable; making campfires and getting drunk near them is fun. One of my friends enjoys this more than the music at the Reading Festival. However campfires make everything smell of smoke until it’s washed – which you also can’t do in the countryside. Hippies have a reputation for lack of hygiene for a reason after all…

My final point involves my housemates who went to Amsterdam. They drove from England, and then decided to camp to save money. However, they did this in January. In the snow. They had to buy housing insulation to keep the tent warm, and even that didn’t stop them shivering. Clearly this was a massive error in judgement, exacerbated by the fact that the local youth hostel had warm beds inside for 6€ a night. I imagine that the experience of getting back to nature and saving money wasn’t worth nearly dying of hypothermia. So the lesson learned here is, that if you want to enjoy your holiday with a friend or loved one, don’t go camping.

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