Back in the good ol’ days of my youth, I was quite the model Girl Scout. I wore a beret, went to sleepaway camp, and sold Thin Mints like nobody’s business. To this day, I have a very distinct memory of earning my Camper Badge. Sitting in my elementary school cafeteria, I learned with pretzel sticks how to properly stack wood to make a fire. Armed with this knowledge, it’s comforting to know that should I ever find myself lost in the woods with a bag of Utz pretzel sticks, I’ll know how to heap them just so. Yes, this pretzel pile would probably quickly attract hungry wildlife, and no, I do not know how to position real sticks to make a fire, but no matter – it was Camper Badge or bust!
My troop then set off on what I now recognize was a “glamping” adventure: we walked established trails, slept in a cabin complete with plumbing and electricity, and wore high quality paisley bandanas. Somehow, I made it through this obviously taxing, survivalist weekend in one piece. As my mother sewed my hard-earned badge onto my Brownie vest, I looked on expectantly, seeking congratulations for my display of courage and willingness to be at one with nature.
Two weeks ago, after a friend invited a group of us to go camping in Canton, TX, I learned that my childhood camping experience in no way resembled actual camping. This was a rude awakening, and I’m now considering ripping my Camper Badge from my vest, as this city girl wouldn’t last one single day alone in the wilderness.
What ‘One With Nature’ Really Means
What Girl Scouts doesn’t prepare you for is peeing in the woods. Oh, no. They let you grow up thinking that every woods or gathering of trees comes with a complimentary latrine. Instead of pretzel art, GS should host an “Art of Peeing in Nature” class. Seriously.
Though I tried to limit my fluid intake in the three days leading up to our Canton adventure, biology got the best of me, and at 12:30 a.m. I found myself trekking alone into the great unknown to find a secluded spot. I’d have to say the best part about this midnight hike was my crippling fear of walking face first into a massive spider web and accidently swallowing the gargantic spider. Wait – no. I really loved getting bugbites on my behind. Ah, that’s not it! Okay, if I had to choose just one thing I loved, it would be the ever-present possibility of stepping on a poisonous snake and being so far from the campsite that no one would hear my cries! Nature. Gotta love it.
Camping: Basically New York Fashion Week
My glamping days required fitted sheets and knit throws, not sleeping bags. So, when packing for our excursion, I simply took the cashmere blanket off of my bed and figured I’d just wrap myself in that like a pig in a blanket – same as a sleeping bag. After checking the forecast and seeing it would be in the 50s, I opted to take my comforter too, but just in case. I mean, I walk around in t-shirts in 50-degree weather all the time and am fine, so I’d packed enough bedding, right?
Wrong. To say I turned into human popsicle would be an understatement. I ended up putting on a long-sleeve shirt, two sweatshirts, leggings (tucked into my high socks – attractive, I know), a pair of pajama pants, and another pair of socks. At one point I considered putting on my tennis shoes to function as slippers, but then realized they smelled too bad and would suffocate the other tent inhabitants.
Cold and awake, I came to three realizations. First, I’m inept at gauging temperatures; second, insulated sleeping bags are definitely a worthwhile investment; and third, I hope to never again find myself in a situation where I’m so desperately in need of an insulated sleeping bag.
Squirrels. Roly Polies. Grasshoppers. These are all wonderful things that I appreciate when I’m not making my home among them. Throw me into a tent a few miles from civilization, though, and my appreciation for these creations plummets.
Who knew that grasshoppers actually FLEW? Not me! I guess I was thrown-off by the word hopper. More appropriate would be the name grassflyer. For 24 hours straight, I lived in constant fear that one would fly into my ear or hit me in the eye, causing me to get a paper-cut from their wings.
I saw a deer, little red spiders, possibly a scorpion, and a worm. This is more wildlife in one place than I have ever before seen, and my eyes were opened to the world around me. You could definitely say I had a Walden-like experience; Thoreau would be pleased.
Camping in Canton was great fun, though I’m #blessed to be back in civilization. After this experience, I feel as though I’ve rightfully re-earned my long-sought-after Camper Badge.
Chelsea is a Level 5 improv student at the DCH Training Center. She is obsessed with music of the 60s & 70s and her vices include vanilla lattes and Swedish Fish. You can check out more of Chelsea’s thoughts and ponderings HERE!