By Jodi A. Shaw
I am not particularly fond of outhouses. I don’t like the way they smell when I walk past them, I don’t like the crowd of flies buzzing around them, and not for one second do I enjoy squatting over a hole or chute or whatever form it takes.
I am, however, in love with camping.
This summer, my husband and I took a few weekends away from our TV, computers, and phones, packed a tent, a portable barbecue, and some food, and went camping.
Without the distraction of housework, bills, and the Internet, we found ourselves engaged in conversation over a game of cards, working together to prepare accommodations and meals (and clean them up), and reveling in the beauty of nature.
And then we noticed something all around us . . . RVs and fifth wheels, many of them equipped with washers and dryers, microwaves and coffee pots — not exactly “roughing it.” According to a quick google, some even come with DVD players and flat screen TVs. And spilling out of them were families who spent much of their weekend immersed in laptops, cellphones, or personal gaming systems, even as a campfire crackled at their feet.
Camping has evolved from lean-tos and fires, to tents and cook stoves, to lavish, 30-foot long recreational family vehicles with slide-outs and bathtubs and queen size beds. With that evolution, camping is losing its most endearing quality: time away from “it all” and time interacting with the people in your life.
The 40-hour workweek puts limitations on the amount of time that families can spend together. And the work doesn’t stop when you walk in the door. Chores, bill paying, individual downtime and the like consume hours at an alarming rate. Weekends are used to catch up on leftover tasks and errands, further reducing the time available for relaxing and conversing.
Why on earth would anyone want to bring that camping with them?
I’ll confess, each time we return home from camping I’m happy to be reunited with running water and modern conveniences. I most certainly cannot imagine my life without them. But being away from it all allows me to see more clearly that the amenities we scramble so hard to acquire also take away from our lives, perhaps even more than they contribute.