The Joy of Camping
My first experience sleeping in a tent was when I was 8 or 9 years old. We lived in a remote village in the French Alps, and my parents had purchased an old sheepfold in the mountain built at least 200 years ago. As my parents spent most of their free time renovating the main part of the house, they set up a large tent for us four kids, my three brothers and I.
I remember the feeling of safety brought by the tarp surrounding us, conversations with my brothers before falling asleep that felt like they were long into the night as we were not supervised by our parents, but it probably would only have been a few minutes before we fell deeply asleep. I remember waking up when one of us had to pee and was too scared to step outside in the dark alone. I would hold the flashlight towards them until they finished their business and came back inside.
One night the four of us were woken up because we heard scratching noises around the tent. The oldest of my brothers Jérémie and I realized that a group of boars were likely surrounding us, but we said nothing to the others so that they wouldn’t be scared. We remained still and eventually, the boars left. Other nights, some large squirrels were walking all over the trees above us that were filled with apples, the apples would then fall onto our tent making large “bangs” waking us all ! I realize that this feeling of surrounding love, comfort and protection brought by the tent and the closeness with my dear brothers is what I associate camping with.
I had to put my love for camping on hold for a while between my childhood and my early twenties — I actually didn’t even know I liked camping until I moved to Canada. In British Columbia, most locals go camping regularly and have all the gears necessary for a good night of sleep. I got to tag along many camping trips then, and got out as often as I could.
I found camping to be therapeutic. Sleeping outdoors, with nothing but a small tarp shell separating me from the outside world gives me an intense sense of joy and freedom. I feel safe, I feel whole and I don’t feel threatened.
Even as I hear noises of branches moving, scratches around me or sniffing around, I try to not let the fear surpass me. I have had girlfriends confiding in me that camping is scary…