Remember a time when camping meant a leaky tent, a blazing campfire, and a complete lack of a microwave? While those blessed with the wisdom that comes naturally with time and experience may remember dented metal camping utensils, canvas tents, and RVs that weighed the same as several large elephants, ‘roughing it’ has become somewhat a lost concept for modern campers.
Many younger generations won’t experience actual camping as many of us remember it. Is that a good thing or a bad thing? It’s hard to say and depends on a number of factors. But let’s start at the beginning.
Maybe that’s too far back. But the principles are still the same. Camping was once an opportunity to learn practical skills. Before we figured out that Dorito chips (disturbingly) make excellent fire starters, campfires were built and nurtured in a very specific fashion. Certain wood burned better, specific kindling was used, a chimney system allowing for airflow was fashioned. The science behind building a campfire is employed less and less as technology has advanced enough to provide easy fire starting solutions or even propane fires that don’t require the hauling around of logs.
Shelters have advanced from simple triangle tents to more roomie alternatives by the 70s (pictured above), and have now evolved to portable trailer tent systems like the Sylvan Go (pictured below).
Recreational Vehicles were clunky gas guzzlers back in the day, but are now streamlined, light, and economical ways to travel, camp, and vacation. Modern RVs now come standard with air conditioning, toilet, shower, flat screen TV, auto leveling, a full kitchen, pull out awnings, and all sorts of other nifty features to make your outdoor experience as convenient as possible.
While boondocking is popular, the act of booking a campground online is far more common as people prefer to be organized rather than just ‘winging it’. The modern campground has bathrooms and showers that, in direct opposition of their counterparts from the 80’s, don’t look like they were the recent site of a murder. Campgrounds are now spacious and accommodate electrical and water hookups for RVs, often have wi-fi (because if nothing else, nature needs Netflix), and usually come with on-site amenities.
Camping these days comes with so many conveniences, it can sometimes feel like we’ve lost something from the experience along the way. However, on the flip side, it’s those conveniences that have attracted more and more people to experience the outdoors. In the end, we have to conclude that it’s a matter of balance. Everyone should know how to build a fire, but at the same time should also be allowed to stream a movie in their tent.