Mormons are big campers. It’s in our DNA. I suppose it comes from trekking to the Great Basin (when I’m sure they would just as soon have not been camping, but it’s not as if they had a lot of choice in the matter). By Mormon standards, I’m not a big camper; in my old age, I kind of like being able to take a shower in the morning. But even I have had my share of camping experiences:
Family camping. When I was young, my father bought a family-size tent, and after that we would often go camping as part of our vacations. The thing was made of canvas and was big, heavy and really old school. And I remember that my poor mother was just as in charge of cooking the food while we camped as she was at home. But we all enjoyed it.
Boy Scouts. As a boy, I loved camping so much that I would have dreams where I owned a two-man tent, and I was always disappointed to wake up and realize it wasn’t really true. Scout camping taught me the basics, which was very useful knowledge to have. In the summers I would go to scout camp at Chin-Be-Gota near Wausau, Wisconsin and mostly work on merit badges. We also did Klondike Derbies where we camped out in the snow in January. (One year we put our tent on a bed of straw, and having that insulation made all the difference in the world; we slept well that year.)
Girl’s Camp. I’ve never been to girl’s camp, but my wife has often gone. Usually she has gone as a cook. The girls have all their meals cooked for them by sisters from the stake. Now that’s my idea of camping!
Camping with Friends. My friends and I liked to drive down to Champaign-Urbana (about a three-hour drive) and camp down there.
Solo Camping. My wife, who is a loner type, every year goes camping by herself in Wisconsin, and spends the days biking and kayaking. She’s fearless that way.
Father-Son Campouts. The last ward I was in had a tradition of doing a father-son campout every May in honor of the restoration of the Aaronic Priesthood. I always enjoyed these. When there was rain in the forecast I would bitch and moan about having to go, but I would go anyway. If it was really raining, my son and I would sleep in the back of our Explorer. As long as I had a poncho, I would get used to the rain and it wouldn’t bother me. I enjoyed watching the boys play capture the flag, or our budding engineering student create this pyromaniac’s dream of a bonfire.
Seminary/Youth Conference Campouts. When I was a teen our seminary class went on a camping trip to Nauvoo that was terrific and really brought us together as a group. As an adult, my wife and I went camping to Nauvoo as group parents for a youth conference. At the end of the trip arrangements had been made for us to each get a three-minute shower at a local school. That was the best shower I’ve ever had in my life!
Ward Campouts. When I was young, my ward would sometimes hold a camput at Nauvoo State Park. And some years, instead of the father-son configuration (or the daddy-daughter version they held one year), we’ve substituted an entire ward campout concept. I actually prefer the ward campouts, because I like it when the whole ward family is together.
Tell us about your Mormon camping experiences.