Give me a tent, a warm sleeping bag and a crackling fire: Why I love camping

People can unintentionally help spread invasive species while camping this summer (Photo by Carys Richards/NCC staff)

People can unintentionally help spread invasive species while camping this summer (Photo by Carys Richards/NCC staff)

July 16, 2014 | by Carys Richards

When the cold Canadian winters begin to recede and the weather grows warmer, I pull all my camping gear out of storage. After years of groundwork, I have my preparation down to a science. All of my gear is sorted and stored in large plastic bins, ready to go into the trunk of a car at a moment's notice, but the first thing I need to do is take inventory of anything I need to restock. Propane for the stove? Check. Instant coffee? Check. Hand sanitizer, paper towel and plastic bags? Check, check and check.

What is it I love about camping? First off, it’s the image of the cityscape dwindling in my rear-view mirror. After work and school and the general hectic bustle of being in the city, I yearn for an escape. I need to leave the bumper-to-bumper traffic, hot pavement and wailing sirens behind. I often don’t even realize how accustomed I am to the noise of the city until it’s gone, but getting outdoors and far enough from the highway that I can’t even hear the cars speeding by is relaxing in its own, special way.

 Will you be camping this summer?

There is plenty of setup involved with tent camping that caravans don’t get to experience. Sometimes pitching a tent can be an event in itself. There’s the endless search for the flattest area that is never perfect, no matter how long you look, and fingers crossed that there isn’t a huge rock under the soil where you’re trying to hammer in a tent peg.

Once my Therm-a-Rest pad is inflated and my sleeping bag is set up, my bed is ready to go. Anybody that knows me knows that there is little I value more then a good night's sleep.

Over the years, I’ve accumulated quite a collection of camping gear. I have a set of gear specific for car camping (like a sleeping bag so big and fluffy that I don’t miss my duvet at all), and a smaller, lightweight version that accompanied me during my backpacking adventures across Australasia. I love shopping for camping gear and am always on the lookout for new ways that can make my life easier in the backcountry. I have a MSR camp stove that weighs a whopping 130 grams, a Therm-a-Rest that rolls up to the size of a water bottle and an Osprey backpack that is the most comfortable bag I’ve ever owned. Having the opportunity to pull all my gear out and play with it is like giving a kid a box of toys.

Campfires are fantastic for cooking, but my favourite moments come later, when the lingering tendrils of daylight are dissipating into the horizon and the glow of the flames casts a warm light on the friends and family sitting around the campfire with me. When everyone is relaxed and content, it’s a time for honest conversation and the best kind of bonding. I love sitting around a campfire and staying up late, then going for a midnight walk away from any light pollution and pointing out constellations in the stars that I haven’t seen since my move to the city.

I love crawling into a warm, cozy sleeping bag at the end of the night with the smell of wood smoke in my hair. When I’m falling asleep to the sounds of nature with only the canopy of my tent separating me from the stars, the stress of work and school and all my city troubles are a world away. 

What do you love about camping? Share your favourite camping memory with us in the comments, below.

Carys Richards (Photo courtesy of Carys Richards)

About the Author

Carys Richards is the communications manager for NCC’s Alberta Region.

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