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Source - Pixabay

Camping is the great American pastime.

Many people not only in America, but internationally as well enjoy the opportunity to get away from their daily routine in life, and venture out into nature to enjoy some peace, and tranquility.

Some of the best memories from my childhood involve summer camping trips. I enjoyed them so much that I joined the boy scouts mostly because I wanted to take part in their camping trips without being under my mother’s watchful eye.

Let’s face it moms can ruin all of the fun sometimes. Just when you are about to do something that seems like a good idea at the time, mom steps in, and stops it. For instance this onetime back in the 1980’s I was about to do something slightly stupid.

I remember it clearly, it was late June approaching the Fourth of July, and there were many firework kiosks set up selling items that go boom to make your Fourth of July more enjoyable.

Back then you could buy things that launched into the air and exploded into a light show of fire. We also had Roman Candles. They were sticks about ten inches long that would launch various colored balls of fire about 15 foot through the air. What could be more fun than standing 20 foot away from someone and launching fireballs at each other? That is until mom catches you, and decides to end your fun.

I don’t remember whose idea it was, but my friend and I decided to pull apart quite a few different fireworks, and empty the contents into a wooden box. After we pulled apart 15 different items, and placed the contents into a wooden box, we added a good amount of gasoline to give it all a good soaking.

Just as we were about to light it on fire, there came mom to put a stop to it, and end our experiment. As a mature adult I will have to admit in hindsight it was a bad idea, but I still often wonder what the results would have been.

During my time in the boy scouts I went on many different camping trips. There was one camping trip that we took to Devils Lake Park in Baraboo, Wisconsin late in the year. We had 8 - 10 little 2 man tents set up at our campsite. One of the first things that we did after setting up our tents was go wander around scavenging for wood for the fire. The campfire was always my favorite part of the experience.

We split off into groups of three or four, and went into the woods looking for dried out sticks, tree branches, and logs to bring back to our campsite for both cooking, and the crackling campfire at night. My trio of misfits found a small log that was so dry rotted it crumbled in your hand.

One of them, Dave, not his real name, had a magnifying glass with him and decided to see if he could start a fire with it. It didn’t take much time before that small piece of rotted wood burst into flames. Dave then carelessly threw it on the ground without a second thought before he, and the other misfit quickly headed back to the campsite with their find.

There were many brown pine needles laying on the ground along with other decaying debris in the heavily wooded area which started to catch fire as well. I yelled, “Hey wait!” before jumping up and down on the growing flames. I managed to put it out, and kick dirt over it to make sure it was out before rejoining them.

If I hadn’t been there Boy Scout Troop 107 could very well have been responsible for the great Devil’s Lake fire of 1982 thanks to Dave’s carelessness. Don’t be like Dave. Listen to Smokey the Bear. “Don’t play with fire.”

We all brought back ample firewood to get us through the weekend. The first night that we were there we had a healthy fire going to reduce the chill in the nighttime air. It was late in the year in Wisconsin, and winter was upon us. It seemed to get colder outside the later it became.

Eventually we all went to bed. I remember laying in my less than adequate sleeping bag, wearing a sweatshirt under my jacket, and I was still curled up shivering before eventually falling asleep. As we all awoke the next morning we discovered snow had fallen overnight. There was only one thing to do at that point. Build a snowman? No!! Snowball fight. TIP: Mittens keep your hands warmer than gloves, and are great for making snowballs.

It turns out the temperature dropped to 28c that night. It was below freezing outside, and we all earned our 32 degrees below merit badge because of it. How many people can say that slept in a tent when it was that cold outside, and awoke to fresh fallen snow?

I learned a valuable lesson that night. There is nothing like a nice, warm, and thick sleeping bag. I wish I had one like this back then... Coleman North Rim Adult Mummy Sleeping Bag

When sleeping outside in the cold having a good quality sleeping bag makes a big difference. As I got older I discovered having an air mattress underneath your sleeping bag makes for an even more restful night’s sleep.

Coleman makes a great air mattress. I have one that has held up for years of trouble free use... Coleman Company Double High Airbed, Queen,Grey

Coleman also makes a Rechargeable Electric Pump to quickly inflate your air mattress... Coleman QuickPump Rechargeable Electric Pump... It is a must have if you want to avoid the light headedness that occurs when using lung power to inflate your air mattress.

Part of the beauty of the camping experience is getting away from it all, and enjoying some peace and quiet in the wilderness. There is nothing like the peace and quiet of the great outdoors. Nature’s symphony is the only sound that you will hear. The crickets and birds chirping, and the leaves wrestling the wind like you have never heard them before.

The air seems to be free from pollution and more filled with oxygen then the air you breathe in your own backyard. You feel more alive, more energetic, and happier than you do in your normal every life. Going for a walk among the trees or around a pond, brings a sense of tranquility to all who have had the opportunity to experience it.

When nighttime falls across the wilderness, it envelops quickly and covers the area in complete darkness. We are used to the many street lights, yard lights, and the headlights of the traffic that is all around us adding to the illumination of city life. The light of the moon is the only illumination you will see when darkness falls across the boondocks.

The stars will appear to shine brighter, and be more plentiful in the sky than your eyes have ever seen in the city. It is truly a sight to behold. There is no substitute for the peace and quiet, and complete darkness the nighttime brings.

There will be times however when you need some extra light at your campsite during the peak of darkness. Your flashlight won’t always provide enough light to suit your needs. Those are the times when a good lantern is indispensable.

Enjoy your time away from it all. Marvel at nature’s beauty. Soon it will be, “Back to the grind" again.

Camping T-shirts

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