Today we have an art challenge prompt of “camping,” which is certainly outdoor fun for many people, but I have mixed emotions about the experience. I adore nature so that’s an affirmative check mark, but when it comes to eating, sleeping and showering, I have specific tastes. So, yeah, my camping experiences were often less than optimal. As a young kid, I went camping with my grandparents where we would also go fishing during the day. I loved the fishing part, got a little squeamish during the descaling of the fish part before dinner, though enjoyed the time around the picnic table and later the campfire. But then, when it came time to crawl into a tent I lost my interest. Perhaps it was my mild case of claustrophobia, but it was also the many weird sounds that could be heard. These are sounds not heard during the day as they only come from creatures of the night. That sounds a bit like a horror movie, but that was what was playing through my head all night until the first rays of sun finally came to save me. I just felt like I suddenly didn’t belong there anymore and yes, I really missed my bed.
When I was in my early 30’s, I was talked into going on a camping trip with friends. It seemed like the perfect way to reconnect with my youth, as I hadn’t gone camping since that time. I was soon to learn that I had no idea how it was actually done. In order to prepare for the trip, I needed to find a tent and selected the largest one I could find, which actually ended up having odd little dormer windows on two sides making it look like an unfortunate cross between a French cottage, a teepee, and an igloo. It was hideous to look at, but I was certain it would feel more roomy once inside. It did not. Also, I had no idea how to construct it and had to get help from friends in order to make it stand properly. Add to this, I had forgotten to bring anything more than blankets to decorate the inside of the tent. Apparently, despite its miraculous size, it lacked the ability to produce its own air mattress and pillows. Thankfully, a member of our party said the words one never thinks will be the ones needed to hear when she said, “We have an extra air mattress and pillows you could use.”
Apparently, having one air mattress is considered standard, but having a second one on the off chance yours chooses to spring a leak during the event is the mark of a true camper. I was in awe and more than a little thankful. And, of course, desperately hoping hers didn’t spring a leak so I would have to sacrifice mine. Looking back, I can’t actually tell if this was selfish or simply a survival skill. Suffice it say, I wasn’t a great camper. I remember thinking, particularly when I was young, if I wanted to eat food out of a can, I could have stayed at home. My love of nature simply didn’t make me want to give up life’s little luxuries during the entire experience. As my friends grew older with me, however, they soon agreed, and our camping trips switched to climate-controlled cabins. Nature was right outside to enjoy, but there was no longer a need to pretend we weren’t actually just humans after all. But even today, I have fond memories of those early camping trips. Though brief, I’m sure I learned a lot about life and what was truly important while experiencing that time I had to rough it.
About the Doodlewash
Da Vinci Paint Co.: Yellow Ochre, Quinacridone Red, Cobalt Turquoise, Terra Cotta, and Cobalt Blue. Lamy Al-Star Safari Fountain Pen with sepia ink in an A5 Hahnemühle Watercolour Book. Want to purchase a print of this doodlewash? Send me a note with a link to this post, and I’ll add it to my shop!
Creator of Doodlewash®, founder of World Watercolor Month (July), World Watercolor Group™, and host of the Sketching Stuff Podcast. Sharing daily watercolor illustrations and stories while proudly featuring talented artists from all over the world! If you’d like to be a guest artist on Doodlewash.com, contact me!