I grew up camping, and my father’s side of the family has camped and loved the outdoors for generations. My grandfather, a widower with four boys and one young daughter, taught physics and soil science at the UW-Madison. He and his graduate students would take back country field trips, and the five kids would tag along. Legend has it that he and his brother (also a science professor) came up with one of my grandfather’s most important papers on a sand bar during a camping trip. My father, the oldest, has stories about post-holing through deep snow for miles with the younger kids following behind.
So, in our family, you start camping as soon as you are out of diapers.
As adults, most in the family still camp in some form. Some are hunters; some boaters, of the sailing, canoeing, or rafting sort; some hike, some bike; and, I have one aunt who is a fabulously talented backcountry horsewoman.
Me personally? Well, I married an outdoorsy kind of guy. Funny story, when my husband and I started dating, we went on a cross-country road trip. He’d heard me say that I grew up camping, but was skeptical of this young, city-bred political science major. So, one night when we got to camp and started setting up for making dinner, he took off to get water, secretly (he says subconsciously) hazing me to see if I could get the stove lit and the can of beans opened on my own. I knew he was testing me, but wasn’t worried, and sure enough, dinner was well on its way by the time he returned. Since then, he’s stopped hazing me (smart man) and we’ve done a lot of different kinds of camping . . . rockclimbing, canoeing, backcountry, sea kayaking, and bike touring on our beautiful silver tandem.
And now we are passing on the traditions to the next generation. When I started camping with my niece, now 9, and nephew, now 7, I began to realize how much I have learned about camping and the outdoors. Little tiny bits of knowledge acquired over decades of camping—how to read a topo map, how to set up camp, how to open a can of beans with my jackknife, how to make a tarp shelter, how to read a river, . . . In short, without really thinking about it, I’ve learned how to stay warm, fed, sheltered, not lost and safe in nature.
But what if you didn’t have a family to teach you these skills? Would camping seem strange, foreign, even scary? Would even the idea of packing—what to bring, what not to bring—seem daunting?
And, what about dealing with female issues out in the woods? I mean, we hear about the dads who take their young sons out to learn how to pee on a tree, but what about girls? It is actually much more difficult for women to pee in the woods than it is for guys . . . after all, we have to avoid peeing on not just our shoes, but also our pants while squatting.
And so, the idea of this blog was born. There are a million websites out there about camping in all its glorious forms. And, without a doubt, the best way to learn about camping is simply to go camping. But in the hopes that some women out there who would like to know some basic camping fundamentals (updated from what we learned in Girls Scouts), this blog is for you.
I hope the blog will be useful, but also like my best women friends, I hope that it is entertaining, funny and irreverent, as well as a safe place to ask questions and share stories.
And I would love to hear from campers and non-campers . . . what you know, what you would like to hear about, what tips you have to share, and even, where you think I have gone completely off-the-map bat-shit crazy.