By the time I went on my first camping trip as a grown adult, college-educated person, the laundry list of things that had kept me away from camping throughout my youth had grown to excuses.
- My back will hurt sleeping on the ground.
- I don’t like the bathroom situation.
- Mosquitoes are going to eat me alive and I’ve never seen a tick in real life (This is no longer a fact.).
- I’m sweating just thinking about it.
- I’m not handy at all, I can’t figure out any of these outdoor things.
- Can you imagine what my hair will look like?
Growing up in small-town Midwest among the cornfields, I didn’t have the opportunity or the family dynamic to experience something like camping with my parents or relatives. Luckily, I was eased into my first experience with a car camping trip at Kettle Moraine State Forest here in north-central Wisconsin. The beauty of car camping is that there’s an opportunity to get in the car and drive away forever in case everything goes badly. I was concerned that it would be crowded and we would be in the lap of the campground next to ours. I was skeptical about looking like an idiot trying to put up a tent (That happened.). Instead, I was able to disconnect from always being on a screen and refreshing my email. I got more steps in walking trails and wandering around the forest than I would normally in suburbia. There was a level of comfort knowing that worst case scenario I could go sleep in the car if the ground was too unforgiving. There was also a level of comfort knowing I was physically capable of going on long hikes and keeping up. And mostly, there was a level of comfort finding out I wasn’t completely out of my element even though I was sure I would be.
For the first time campers out there, car camping is a great gateway to the outdoor world. It makes it easy to come prepared with anything that might be needed so there’s no hunting for a rock to break open a can of beans or creating a bed of leaves for lumbar support. Pack everything you might need and maybe a little more for good measure just in case it turns out to be more fun than you expected. I’m not sure I’m ready to leave the safety of the car and head off into the wilderness with a backpack and the clothes on my back yet, but after some more time outdoors you might catch me climbing Half Dome. See you at the summit.