“Camping 101” or “Welcome to Camp NaNoWriMo”

Camping 101

This year I am participating in the April Camp NaNoWriMo with some of my super duper awesome possum writer and blogger buddies! It is exciting because this is the first time in NaNoWriMo that I have had a group of writery pals to hang out with (virtually) and support.

I will be making regular (maybe?) updates on my Camp NaNoWriMo progress and experience on my writing blog over on my professional site here. If you would like to find out more about what I’m writing, how I am doing, etc., you have to go there.  Well you don’t have to, it not like I was planning on tying you up and making you… *kicks rope and duct tape under the table*

Ahem.

Long story short I am going to try to finish my NaNoWriMo 2013 novel- including writing an extended ending, because I realized my ending sucked.

So while I am over there banging my hands randomly against the keyboard hoping something that resembles sentences emerges from the mucky muck of my brain, I thought I would spend the month telling you about some of my more interesting camping stories…because Camp NaNoWriMo…you get it.

As a Canadian I love camping. I have to. It’s mandated by law. You don’t get to vote or pull your pension until you’ve completed at least 100 hours of camping, and 20 of those hours have to be winter camping, because Canada. True fact I was born while my parents were camping. That is how committed we are!  Camping is in my blood.

I'll let you in on a secret: paper bags always catch on fire.

I’ll let you in on a secret: paper bags always catch on fire.

Growing up if I wasn’t camping with my family I was camping with the Brownies and Girl Guides, learning how to make bacon and eggs in a paper bag over an open fire (spoiler alert: you can’t!), or learning what to do when your tent get blown across the field into a neighbouring cow pasture- while you are sleeping in it.  Going on winter walks to identify different species of birds? Child’s play. Running away from a swarm of black flies? That’s a normal Tuesday in July. For years it was a birthday tradition for my best friend and I to go camping. That’s what you do when you are born in August and you own a tent and over 300 dollars worth of camping gear.

I don’t even have to buy mosquito repellent any more, my glands just secrete it come June.

Yes. I love camping. Until it gets dark.

A few years ago I went camping with my then partner. There was a slight possibility he wasn’t going to be able to come and that I would have to go on my own. Naturally, I thought I would be fine because of my wealth of experience. I had all the gear I needed, transportation, and the know how- including where the closest Subway (as in the sandwiches) was. I was confident I would be fine. Luckily I didn’t have to find out because he was able to make it. However I learned something very important about myself that trip.

Through all my camping experience I had always been the “least experienced” camper. Meaning I went with family with many more years of camping under their belt, my best friend who just thinks he’s better at camping than I am and is happy to do all the ‘hard’ tasks, or when I was younger in Girl Guides where there were leaders and people responsible for me.

With my partner, who had basically never been camping before, the responsibility fell to me. It was great. I got to chop the wood, build the fire, determine where and what we would do. I thrive on being in charge. Yet, as night began to fall something in my stomach started to clench. We were camping in late September so there weren’t too many other people around. I realized for the first time in my life that I was terrified of nature.

Sure, I had kind of known it before. I ran screaming from a dining tent once while camping with my best friend because raccoons had decided to try and make off with our food. “Ah! Nature!” was my phrase of choice for that particular trip. I was freaked out, but not scared because my best friend promptly lit a large stick on fire and charged into the dining tent to scare away the furry bandits. (Note: a lot of alcohol was consumed by that point and I do not recommend ever running with a flaming stick, least of all into a highly flammable tent containing all your food).

Though if they had been this dapper I would have invited them over for a drink.

Though if they had been this dapper I would have invited them over for a drink.

 

So, I laid in my tent beside my inexperienced partner, listening to all the horrible noises of raccoons, beavers, and what I can only assume where terrible monsters ready to eat me, frolicking in the nearby river. I realized that if anything were to happen I would be the one who had to take charge. There weren’t even other campers I could run to for help. An inch of nylon kept my throat from whatever viscous animal was certainly lurking around waiting for me to fall asleep to pounce. I spent the first night drifting in and out of sleep, listening and waiting for something to attack.

The second night I was comforted by the fact that another couple had moved into the spot beside us. I didn’t sleep that night because across the river (or at least what I hoped was across the river) a coyote orgy took place. Yipping, and grunting, and howling pervaded until the wee morning hours. All I kept thinking as my partner slept, oblivious to the whole thing, was that at least we had neighbours and maybe the coyotes would eat them instead.

I’m noble like that.

So, needless to say, I think I will enjoy my Camp NaNoWriMo experience much more seeing as I don’t even have to leave my house to make smores. The best kind of camping there is.

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