Where I grew up , in upstate New York, if you were lucky enough to be a Girl Scout, you went to Girl Scout Camp Thunderbird for two weeks if you had sold enough cookies to qualify.
I loved, loved, loved Girl Scout camp. It was two weeks of heaven. I never got homesick, and came home looking and smelling like a small woodland animal.
I’m fairly certain that Girl Scout Camp gave me my love of camping, which I have only recently rediscovered. I am amazed to see how quickly the campgrounds fill up. In fact they are practically booked solid through August already. Young , old, singles, families, everyone is out there. It occurs to me it’s the most democratic recreational activity we share in this country.
Camping is still as popular today as it ever was, and if you have not been in a while, I am here to encourage you to rediscover it . If for no other reason than the best part of camping – the campfire. It’s the very best part of the day, as it gets cool, dark, and everything revolves around the fire. You hunker down in your chair, cozied up to the smoke and flames as night surrounds you in a giant hug. And every camp site around is doing the exact same thing, having a similar experience. Sounds get quieter as voices and activity gets less and less till only the sound of crackling wood and flickers from campsite to campsite are left. Children have passed out from exhaustion and fresh air. Adults are in charge of nothing more than a stick to poke at the flames and wood and watch the fire as hours pass and embers die down.
If you are lucky, the stars will come out. If you are very, very lucky, you will have timed your trip during a full moon. The fire will be hypnotic. The moon light is in fact, silvery. There will be a lovely comforting sense of order and whatever silly worldly troubles that consumed your day will burn away in the red coals of the campfire. It’s the cheapest therapy on earth. A bundle of wood and a match.
When morning comes, the smell of wood burning wakes you up, and the fire again is something to center you while coffee or tea taste a hundred times better in the fresh air than around the kitchen table. And I like how I feel after a couple days of camping- like a small animal again- closer to the earth, grounded and happy minute to minute, for the breeze to blow, the sun to rise or set, birdsong, stream rushing, fire crackling.
” Now I see the secret of making the best person: it is to grow in the open air and to eat and sleep with the earth.” Walt Whitman