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  • Steve Grant

Camping Common Sense

This is not a blog post that you are expecting. This topic needs to be talked about for the sake of camping and enjoying the outdoors. If you are quick to anger and point fingers, you will not see the point of this information, but I assure you, it is YOU that can and is most needed in this discussion and even more so, you are needed for your years of experience. I challenge anyone who calls themselves a true outdoorsman or woman to first understand your blind spot, and then actually help in any small way. I will give you easy ways to help after we understand the true problem taking place outdoors right now.

We have all been frustrated and disgusted in these past years with certain people's camping etiquette (or lack of) and examples of nonexistent respect for the outdoors. We have seen large problems, such as unsafe campfire practices, disregarding of forest rules, littering and unhealthy bathroom practices as well as racing vehicles up and down forest roads and loud large gatherings of music, generators and parties.

So, the quick and easy solution is to blast the offenders on social media and boil your own blood by fixating on all that is wrong in the world and now camping too. A few will even try and isolate away from others by trying to camp farther away from civilization. This is a simple defensive action but does not help correct the problems we all face. A forest fire could easily trap you and your family in the remote areas, or a 4 wheeled machine could cause an accident on a road you are traveling on safely. Other people do have an impact on us all.

What do I propose then? Well, let's first look at the root of the issue.

New campers, young campers, or "new to" camping campers all lack the same thing. They don't have the experience you have. They were not raised by their parents or grandparents in the outdoors. Unfortunately, many were raised indoors in front of a television, technology and the internet. Although it has its place, it did not teach them anything about how to treat nature. If you remember back as a child, if you dropped trash in the forest or out the window of a vehicle you would remember what happened next. Your parents or those you were camping with, made you accountable and addressed it immediately. You were able to grow up watching those older than you behave and respect the outdoors. They were always modeling the appropriate behaviors and actions. They taught you skills on occasion. Some of us grew up with the boy scouts or girl scouts who enticed you to earn badges by learning new skills and conserving the wild spaces of public lands. You could pitch a tent, start a fire, and make camp so easily because you were exposed to it often and repeatedly. It was as common as the back of your hand. Easy!

Now picture a majority of new campers. They have had zero experiences setting up a camp, finding a place to camp and no role modeling ever. Sure, they have apps on their phones, youtube videos to watch, but you know as well as I do, that is a poor substitute for learning.

Learning happens slowly, over time and through trial and error. Experience is something you earn, the minute after you needed it. We all have to connect new learning to old experiences to help them become solidified in our knowledge base and skills. Some of the campers may have not had a father at all growing up. A few maybe never had anyone who cared enough to take them outdoors and share their experiences. We see these kids on computers, staying indoors all the time, but our society has told them, to be safe, that is what you were suppose to do. Now, years later, they are wanting to learn, experience the outdoors, but no one is their to guide them. Mentor them. Assist them. Show them the ropes. Model the correct way to keep a camp. Not all, but most are more than willing to learn from and camp with others. Hunting groups often tell stories around the campfire of past hunts. Knowledge is being past around. Those quiet campers and hunters are listening.

We often say, they have no common sense! True! They have no idea about what is common to you after years of being in the outdoors. But, they can say the same about you. You have no common sense... You don't know your router from your graphics card. It is so simple they say! But, they step up. They help you understand or coach you back to a working computer screen.

So, how do we affect change?

If you are someone who is experienced in the outdoors, and avid camper or hunter, try to see this issue in a new light. They need you.

  1. Give advice that is clear and not misleading.

  2. Offer help with their concerns.

  3. Camp with the less experienced.

  4. Invite people who show an interest in the outdoors to come along.

  5. Make time to stand next to them and support them as they grow and learn and become more experienced.

We are all on the same team. It is time we help where we can.

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