You’re going to love camping. Trust me, it’s awesome. The multi-mile hike to the campsite is super rewarding. Carrying your clothes, shelter, water, and food on your back is an incredible way to connect with your body.
Don’t worry about slowing us down if you can’t keep up. It’s not a problem, because the group doesn’t wait for stragglers. We’ll check in on you, though, and you’ll just let us know you’re okay by continuously yelling, “No, really, I’m okay!” while gasping for air.
Building shelter with the rest of the group is super fulfilling. It’s like one big group project where everyone is expected to have the skillset of a mechanical engineer and the dexterity of a Cirque du Soleil acrobat as we orient a giant pane of polyester across a tangled web of bendy metal poles. It’s surprisingly cozy spending hours in a synthetic triangle while your usual shelter, which costs thousands and comes with Wi-Fi, television, and access to modern plumbing, sits vacant. Who needs that junk, anyway? You won’t even miss it.
I’m so excited that you’ll finally learn all my favorite camping lingo. Not because anyone will explain it to you, and not because you can google the terms either (there won’t be any cell reception). But because you’ll pick it up through context clues. It’s actually better this way. Not understanding half the words that come out of our mouths and being left out of conversations will make you feel like you’re vacationing in a foreign country.
Believe it or not, the food tastes better when you’re camping too. That’s because when you’re in the wilderness, you’re starving, and your acute hunger improves the flavor profile of whatever dehydrated beans and tinned ravioli you’ll be having for dinner. It’s incredible how nature can change you.
You know what’s another perspective-altering moment? Looking up at the nighttime sky. You’ll realize it’s just you and me and the stars… and a bunch of my other friends from different life chapters you barely know. They’re really knowledgeable about the constellations, and I’m not just talking about the Big Dipper. It’s something else. It’s like, we’re so small and insignificant in this great big universe, which sounds poetic but is actually a fancy way of expressing existential dread. You’ll love feeling like you don’t matter.
Speaking of matter, using the bathroom is easy. The amazing thing about camping is that you can go anywhere so long as it’s far enough away from the campsite and you’re able to dig a hole like a prairie dog and squat like a baseball catcher. I hope you haven’t been skipping leg day, because you’ll need the quad muscles of a bodybuilder to not fall into your feces. You’ll also have to balance toilet paper in one hand and your clothes in the other, with your only source of light wrapped around your forehead and—
What? You don’t own a headlamp? Well, you better buy one before the trip. You should definitely start budgeting for all the gear you’ll need to go camping.
Oh, that reminds me: keep an eye out for animals. You know how earlier I said it was just us and the stars? Well, there’ll be several predators lurking in the darkness too. But there’s no way to feel more alive than knowing that the only thing standing between us and a bear will be a thin swath of polyester. It’s crazy to think that if a bear attacked our camp, we would 100 percent die.
Don’t worry about that, though. Just like you shouldn’t worry about the bugs. And don’t even think about bringing any sprays that contain DEET. It’s terrible for the environment. You can borrow my “natural” repellent, which isn’t the least bit effective in protecting against mosquitoes. We’re really guests in their home, after all. I’ll pack the one that smells like lemongrass.
Just wait, you’re going to get the best night’s sleep of your life. The sharp sticks and rocks poking through the bottom of the tent will imprint into your already aching back like they’re nature’s acupuncture.
Knowing that our ancestors worked so hard to stop living like this makes the whole experience so moving. It’s pretty cool to think about how generations of our forebears built modern civilization to avoid this exact situation we’re choosing to return to on our own accord and at a significant financial cost. There’s something beautiful in how fleeting it all is too. When you get home from camping, you won’t have anything to show for it other than thirty-eight mosquito bites, body aches, and some diarrhea splatter on your new sneakers.
Just like our ancestors would have wanted.
I can’t wait for this trip. You’re going to have an absolute blast. Let’s just hope it doesn’t rain. We’ll pick you up Saturday at 4:30 a.m. See you then!