I clearly remember one early camping trip I went on in the middle of winter. We got into camp after dark and everyone hurried to set up their gear as the cold chilled our fingers to the bone. I was ill-prepared for the cold weather in both clothes and sleeping gear. That night, I was able to get to sleep… only to wake up at 3:00 in the morning shivering. I remember laying there feeling absolutely helpless and miserable. I counted the seconds waiting for dawn, and they ticked by extremely slowly!
In the morning, I got up to a thick cloud cover above and a heavy drizzle falling everywhere. As the day progressed, it only got worse as the wind picked up and made every article of clothing I had feel completely worthless! I was miserable doing dishes; the food we ate was half-cooked; I was miserable hiking; and I came back completely soaked.
I remember thinking that this camping trip was turning into quite a failure for myself and my Patrol, and there was nothing I could do about it! I couldn’t fix the weather. I couldn’t get that important part of the meal which one of the Scouts left at home. I couldn’t stop anyone from feeling frozen.
It was at this time that I remembered something that Baden-Powell (the founder of Scouting) had written:
“Some people talk of “roughing it” in camp. Well, a tenderfoot may find it rough and uncomfortable. But there is no “roughing it” for an old Scout; he knows how to look after himself and make himself comfortable. If he has no tent, he doesn’t sit down to shiver…, but sets to work to rig up a shelter or hut for himself. He chooses a good spot for it where he is not likely to be flooded out if a storm of rain were to come on. Then he lights a camp fire, and makes himself a soft mattress of ferns or straw. An old Scout is full of resource. He can find a way out of any difficulty or discomfort.”
This got me to thinking… Maybe it wasn’t the weather or the circumstances that made a good camp, maybe it was the way I dealt with these circumstances! If this camp was a failure, it was because I had made it so.
I decided I was going to try to change it around. I got my Patrol together and told them my plan to build a lean-to shelter with a few tarps and some rope. We then set to work! We found two trees close to each other and tied the rope across between them. With a little fancy rope-work we soon had a snug little shelter that we all could fit in
We then built a fire-pit right in front of this (the camp allowed this). Once a fire was started, the tarp reflected the heat and held it in. It soon got nice and warm in there! I also used the fire to dry off my damp clothes! When it was time to go to bed, I boiled some water over the fire and put it in a heavy-duty polyester water bottle. Slipping this into my sleeping bag, I stayed much warmer that night and was able to get a decent sleep!
I have faced many harder camping situations since then, and I’ve come to look forward to the challenge of staying comfortable with skill and preparation in weather that most people would freeze in! Sure, there were times I was still miserable, but it’s amazing what a positive attitude will do!
I’ve learned that one of the biggest joys in the wilderness is overcoming challenges. These challenges build character and make you mentally prepared to handle whatever situation is thrown at you!
So, have you been on any camping trips where everything went wrong? What happened and how did you handle it? I’d love to hear about it! Leave a comment below or or join me on the GreenBar life forum.
In the next post, I’ll tell you how one particularly rough camping trip brought my Patrol closer together!