Breaking new ground


Allison Mi

In a world full of campers, Allison says to simply choose a tent.

Allison Mi, Staff Writer

Picture the idyllic camping family. My family would be the last one to come to mind. With my sister re-binging “Avatar: The Last Airbender” for the fifth time and constantly opening the Roblox tab, my parents working on computers all day, and me enjoying the comforts of my air-conditioned house at precisely 72° and my fluffy duvet to snuggle into at night, no, we are not a camping family at all.

In fact, if anyone had mentioned camping to me a month ago, I would have slightly furrowed my eyebrows and pursed my lips, the horrors of sleeping on the ragged ground in a one centimeter thin rolled-up blanket, living in a floppy tent, and digging holes to pee in, tumbling through my mind.

But since my first-choice of a hotel room was rejected by my parents because of some pandemic (not sure if you’ve heard of it) we went camping.

“No, absolutely not,” I scoffed the first time they proposed the idea.

My mom had arrived home from Costco triumphantly brandishing a 15-inch air mattress and a 60-square foot tent.

“No way,” I stated emphatically.

A week later, my mom returned the pitied 60-square foot tent. I was relieved. This preposterous plan was gladly short-lived. 

But who knew resurrection was also a thing?

Just a day later, a 10-person tent from Coleman’s was delivered at my doorstep along with another 15-inch air mattress. It looked suitable for a family planning a three-day trip in the wilderness—not us, surely.

“Just booked a four-day camping trip for the end of July,” announced my dad proudly. 

My eyebrows furrowed, my lips pursed, the unimaginable horrors from sleepless nights to wall-less bathrooms—imagined.

This was not happening, and I was going to stand up for myself!

“No. No. N—”

At the end of July, on the road, two hours from home:

You know, I heard that they had actual bathrooms. Right? Like the ones with walls, hinged doors, and provided toilet paper? Yeah.

“You will love it!” declared my dad, right before he shushed us as he began a meeting in the moving car, which carried a pungent waft of the Lays Sour Onion and Cream chips I endlessly snacked on. My sister, whom I was ignoring, was playing the “No-Internet Game” with the pixelated dinosaur frolicking over clumps of cacti on the computer she had brought in hopes of WiFi. I was listening to music with one AirPod because she had lost the other one in some miniscule crack of her seat. My mom was our faithful chauffeur.

Something that I observed when camping was that only about 5 percent of campers owned tents (the rookies) while the remaining 95 percent (the pros) lounged in air-conditioned RVs, scented by Suave’s Ocean Breeze body wash and likely regulated at precisely 72°. Is that even considered camping? I could imagine the comfortable couple in the RV next to our site peeking through their blinds and sniggering as they observed my family: a little girl jabbing at computer keys, a dad reaching for the sky, attempting to gain more than a bar of connection on his phone, a mom meticulously cooking a steaming hot pot on a worn-out park-provided table and some odd girl fishing for an AirPod with chopsticks in the crease of their car seat.

By the time it was dark and the nearby families were out on lawn chairs, chattering lightheartedly around fire pits, I realized it wasn’t all that bad. I mean, I had burnt all my marshmallows and had bulging mosquito bites on my left calf despite the fact that I was a floating cloud of bug spray, but the bathrooms were nice—walls!

At night, my sister and I laughed uncontrollably about anything and everything while lying on our 15-inch air mattress.

“Shh, everyone can hear you guys,” warned my parents from outside of the tent, as they talked by the fire pit while my sister and I broke out into laughter all over again—a laughter we don’t always find when electronics are in the way.

Delving into something more objective, I have read that camping has been proven to reset the human circadian clock, basically an internal clock that tells us when to sleep and wake up because of its synchronization with solar time. The constant use of electronics and the intense exposure of blue light they produce unbalances this clock. Truthfully, did I feel a difference? No. Was there a difference? Very likely, yes. By the second day, I was too busy having fun to notice. I was climbing the dunes, exploring trails, spraying bug spray, shivering in the tent at night, burning marshmallows, and spraying more bug spray. Funny, the mini library and binder of homework I had brought as contingencies for boredom went untouched.

Today, if you mention anything about camping, my eyes will widen in interest. I’ll ask, “Did you use a tent or RV?” If it was a tent, you have my utmost respect. An RV? No comment.

But seriously, all jokes aside, whether it’s because there are no available safe hotel rooms or you desire to experience this staple of the American culture, go camping at least once in your life.

It may be a cliché, but it is still true. Life is better by the campfire.