Camp Outs

By Patrick McManus

Every year, thousands of Americans are introduced to the sport of camping. There are many approaches to it. "Car camping," for example, is where the camp is within 20 feet of the car, and a portion of each night is actually spent in the car, either because the tent collapsed or somebody thought he "heard a bear."

"Backpacking" is where the camp is located more than 20 feet from the car, and no portion of the night is spent actually in the car, except in the case of dire emergencies, such as when somebody thinks he "saw a bear."

"Solitary camping" is where a lone camper lies awake at night wondering how he could have been so stupid as not to have brought somebody along with him. You know you are involved in solitary camping when you ask, "Did you hear that funny noise just then?" and nobody answers. Of course, it may be that the reason you are suddenly involved in solitary camping is that the person you were with heard that funny sound just then and is now engaged in car camping.

"Group camping" may consist of as many as 40 individuals, none of whom thought to bring a can opener. A Cub Scout outing is typical of group camping, and it often ends with the adult leader spending the night pressed inside a pup tent with 14 Cub Scouts because somebody had the bright idea of telling scary stories around the campfire.

And if you listen closely, you will hear one of the expressions most heard around the campgrounds. It is "when hell freezes over." This is used by wives and mothers to indicate the next time you'll get them to go on another camping trip.