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Campground Camaraderie

Originally Published in Trailer Life Magazine

Some time ago I was attending an outdoor writers conference. The keynote speaker was a hunter, angler, naturalist and historian. Moreover, he was an RVer and an outdoor enthusiast.

He commented that, for all outdoor enthusiasts, the experience is essentially the same, whether you are exploring in a tent, travel trailer or motorhome. We all share the musty, sweet smell of the damp forest floor at dawn; the sunlight dancing off the leaves from tree to tree; the melody of a bird’s song; the crackling of firewood spit by the fire. We all share those experiences, regardless of our mode of abode or whether we are there to hike, hunt, fish, bike, swim, paddle or shoot pictures.

These words came back to me earlier this summer while sharing my campfire. Some were in a camping trailer much like mine, one in a motorhome, another few in travel trailers of assorted sizes, and two were tent campers. We all shared good conversation, food, drink and laughter. When it came time for all to turn in, the nice couple in the tent bid farewell and went toward the west. Once they were out of earshot, one of the others in the group offered up a comment not exactly complimentary of the tent campers or their accommodations. As the unanswered question hung and then faded into the still night air, he too retired for the night, but not before that same person tossed a now empty glass bottle into the fire pit.

The couple had a nice tent, it was a new, high-tech design with lightweight aircraft-quality aluminum poles, bathtub style floors, high/low venting, a full-length rain fly; it probably weighed 20 ounces, cost them half a week’s pay and will last a decade if they take care of it. I would never deny anyone equal access — tent campers, hunters, anglers, off-roaders, RVers or tree huggers — who are responsibly pursuing his or her pleasure in the outdoors. And at that moment I didn’t feel any great animosity toward the littering bottle thrower, either. What did bother me was the all too apparent hypocrisy of the moment.

The experiences we remember, that bring us all back again, that we come to the outdoors to experience; are essentially the same. They are the same for the tent camper and the RVer. We should freely share the outdoors and those experiences with others who visit responsibly, and should do so without prejudice.

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