Growing up camping meant two very different things to me. Camping with my single mom consisted of sleeping in the trunk of the car with our deflated air mattress and making morning runs to Starbucks, while going with my dad meant a week in the woods with no shower.
Both ways had their pros and cons, but one thing has been clear to me since I was young: I am not a very outdoorsy person. That’s why when my boyfriend proposed camping to me not too long ago, I was a tad hesitant. He was a longtime Boy Scout and I’ve never owned a sleeping bag. But lo and behold, I found myself packing up to spend a night in a tent last week.
The day had a late start. Between work and classes, we couldn’t leave until later in the day. Grocery store lines to get s’more supplies took ages and the hunt for veggie hot dogs was absurdly difficult. We accidentally took a few wrong turns to our beachside campsite. Between accidentally driving into Camp Pendleton and spending half an hour locating the campgrounds, we didn’t actually pull into our spot until almost sundown. After quickly pitching the tent and setting out our chairs, we could finally get started with our camping activities.
While my camping partner set out to make a fire, I was responsible for setting up the bed. Having only a faulty pump and my own breath to fill the air mattress, it was definitely a struggle to make our tent inhabitable. Once everything was settled, though, I was pleasantly surprised by how comfortable our sleeping arrangement turned out to be.
When it came time to cook our dinner, I found it surprisingly fun getting to roast my hard-earned veggie dog over our little fire. Other than almost accidentally stabbing my boyfriend with my flaming skewer, I enjoyed the simplicity of sitting by the fire. Getting to hangout with my partner, cooking our dinner and looking at the unobstructed stars was a rejuvenating experience I didn’t realize I needed. Staying up late laughing by the bonfire was one of the most perfect summer nights I could have imagined.
After a short trek to the bathrooms and settling into our tent, it was time for an interesting night’s sleep. Too few blankets and a partly deflated air mattress meant we spent the night rolling around and fighting for the precious sheets. But I weirdly enjoyed this classic camping experience. As the 90-degree weather streamed into our tent early in the morning, we quickly got up to escape the intense tent sauna.
Not having brought any food besides our hot dogs and chips meant I munched on some Hot Cheetos for breakfast. Still, it was a great feeling waking up to the smells of nature, getting to spend my morning sitting outside and enjoying the remaining bonfire from the night before.
After packing up all our supplies we decided to head to the beach for a short rest before we went back home. It was great taking a dip in the cool ocean, drying off in the warm sand and watching dogs run around. Not having slept amazingly meant we immediately passed out on the sand, but were quickly overcome by a stray wave that soaked us and swept all our things away.
After recovering all our stray belongings the ocean tried to take from us, we hiked back up, packed up the car and left for home. Despite all of the odd struggles we faced on our short trip, I had the time of my life. I loved the ease of sitting by the fire, hanging out with my significant other, and getting to enjoy some time in nature. Even though it means no showers and smelling like campfires, I can’t wait for my next camping adventure. Although it was a vastly different experience than what I grew up with, it was so much fun pitching a tent and pulling out the skewers again.
So whether you’re an outdoorsy buff or not, the next time you’re looking to take a quick trip, consider going camping. Between the beautiful night sky, the calmness of sitting by the fire and falling asleep listening to all the sounds of the outdoors there really is nothing quite like it.