A case for a how-to guide on how not to go camping… ever | Lifestyles

My husband and I were in a big box store the other day when I spotted a laminated foldout guide with the catchy title, “Guide to Surviving Getting Lost in the Wilderness.”

I’m always intrigued by laminated fold-out guides. What a great idea to pack so much useful information into a relatively small space. I’ve seen guides for math, biology, and the basics of English – all of which would have been very useful to me during my high school days.

I even saw a laminated human anatomy unfolding, which gave me slight pause because I like to think doctors wouldn’t need visual aids, although I’m sure they don’t. don’t use foldout guides once they’re out of med school, right?

But a foldout guide on how to survive getting lost in the wilderness was a first, and I wondered who would have the foresight to buy something like this before a camping trip.

Was it intended as a gift from a parent or perhaps a spouse? (“I’ve got this for you, honey. You know how you can never remember how to tell which way is north by the moss on a tree.”)

It would really make a thoughtful gift. We all know that children and spouses don’t necessarily listen, even when the advice is first rate and best intentioned. Giving a loved one a laminated flyer seems like a great way to get your point across without showing a complete lack of confidence in their ability to go camping without ending up in Canada.

But the fact that someone had to come up with such a fold-out guide confirms what I’ve always known: camping is basically a very dangerous hobby.

A long time ago, when I was 12, I went to an overnight camp in northern Wisconsin. I knew even before I got my bunk assignment that the great outdoors were a force to be reckoned with and I begged my mom not to make me go there the night before I left. His response was typical, “We paid for it and you’re off.”

I did and survived, but it was, by my mild suburban standards, brutal.

The counselors had us do all sorts of survival activities “just in case” our canoes capsized or we caught poison ivy or lost our bag of supplies and had to live off the land until we let’s be rescued. Never having given much thought to surviving anything other than a sweat during the summer rerun season, there was a lot of information to process.

After I got home from camp, I swore, like a Scarlett O’Hara, that neither I nor my people would ever go camping again. And we didn’t.

I’ve known a lot of people, nice, interesting, seemingly normal people, who love camping, but I don’t get it. Why would anyone want to sleep on a floor strewn with stones only to wake up and not only have to make a fire to cook breakfast, lunch and dinner, but also catch at least some of those meals at bare hands? Or at least with a fishing rod. Why go through all this when, as the ad says, chances are no matter where you are, you’re about 10 minutes from a Wyndham hotel? I find that very reassuring.

Then there are the RV campers, which are much more my kind of people. At least with motorhomes you have running water, closets and bathrooms, albeit on the small side, but still well above any latrine on the planet.

RV campers also pitch their tents, so to speak, in RV parks, places with running water, playgrounds for kids, and possibly a well-stocked convenience store.

I’ve also never seen a laminated foldout guide to the RV, which is saying a lot.

Because I was familiar with the great outdoors and wasn’t destined to be kindred spirits, I didn’t bother looking at the survival guide. But I wonder if that included the most important advice of all: “Don’t end up in the desert in the first place.”

Just ask the Wyndham Hotel Group. Now these people are doing a real public service.

Nell Musolf is a freelance writer based in Mankato. She can be contacted at [email protected]

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