I usually keep my mouth shut when it comes to nature, including camping. People (usually white) wax poetic about it and it’s treated as this amazing thing. I’m sure it is for many people (because it’s a constant reframe), but it’s the exact opposite for me.
I went camping a few times as a kid with my family and church. I know at one point it was when I had contacts, so that would be when I was a teenager. I remember being miserable because, and I am not kidding, I am allergic to almost everything on earth up to and including the sun. I’m allergic to everything green and most animals. I had to get allergy shots every week when I was a kid, and my mother never explained what was happening. I did not know that what they were actually doing was injecting me with the same poison that they were trying to protect me from. Yes, I know how it’s done–now. But at the time, all it meant was that I was miserable every week. My arm would swell and itch, and I would be unhappy for the rest of the day. I had to sit in the allergy office for a half hour because–I’m not even sure why. Anyway, it never stopped me from being allergic.
When I got tested for allergens in my twenties, I got twenty to thirty pokes on my thigh. Ten minutes later, my thigh looked like a balloon. At one point, the thirty pokes joined and it was a unity of agony. In other words, hell NO I am not going camping! The last time I was outside, I got stung by a yellow jacket. This was nearly a week ago, and my finger is still red and swollen. I todes not itch any longer, but it’s still a bit tender to the touch.
Anyway. The one time camping that I remember was with the church. I was misreable because my eyes were itchy. Which is bad in and of itself, but it’s worse because I was wearing contacts. Hard contacts. So in rubbing my eyes, I was afraid they would pop out. Then, there were all the creepy crawlies. I’m not afraid of them, but I don’t like them on me. And, as I mentioned, I’m allergic to almost everything–which includes mosquitos. Ok, technically not because allergic means EpiPen. But I have a ‘sensitivity’ to them in that they swell up to the size of a mandarin orange.
One of my favorite memories about being on Twitter was when Angry Black Lady and I started riffing about camping being white people shit. Other PoC joined in, and it was honestly one of the funniest thing I’d been a part of. Closely followed by the time we started riffing on a pumpkin riot (long story) that happened, which was also white people shit. I did a parody of Next Episode, substituting in pumpkin spice latte. As to the former, several PoC pointed out that owning a home was a point of pride for many black people and that not for anything would they camp voluntarily.
I’m sure my father would say the same. He is of farmer stock and did not enjoy working on the farm. I don’t think he had a good time when we went camping. Then again, he did not have a good time doing much of anything, but that’s a whole different post.
I was miserable the whole time we were camping, and I would never do it voluntarily. And I haven’t. I just do not see the appeal in deliberately living in substandard conditions–in other words, maknig things worse for yyourself on purpose. Going back in time and pretending to be a pioneer is not my idea of fun.
I was reminded of this because of a post on Ask A Manager. It was in the ‘you may also like’ bit, and it’s one of the wildest letters according to many commenters. I didn’t think it was that wild as in I can easily see someone do it, but it’s certainly not something a boss should do. In a nutshell, the letter writer started a new job with an nonprofit that was focused on the environment. Something, something, state parks. Something something they have to stay in tents in the summer–what?!!! Apparently, the organization gets free permits so in the summer, that means they are encauroged to stay in tents when possible. The directior (the boss), on the other hand, has a camper.
The outrage was real. The comment section exploded and was nearly universally condemning. Many of the commenters professed to love camping, but not in a business situation. The letter writer was in PR and not a ranger or anything like that. It wasn’t anything related to the being in the parks themselves. Annd, again, their boss had a camper so it wasn’t as if she was going to be staying in a tent herself. Oh, and while they were allowed to use the cabins in the winter, the cabins had bedbugs.
My issues with camping. One, sleeping on the ground. I am very sensitive to things–in the physical sense, I mean. Lying on the ground with rocks digging in my back all night? No thank you. Plus, I don’t like super hard when I sleep (except for the obvious super hard), so that’s an issue as well.
Then, add to that mosquitos that loooooooooove me, and it’s a miserable time. Plus, I don’t do well with heat. At all. And for me, anything over 70 is terrible. You can imagine how well that mentality serves you whilst camping in the summer. So, yeah. I’ve jokingly said that the outdoors is fine as long as there is glass between me and it.
I don’t mind that other people find it restorattive, obviously. But I just don’t relate to it at all. I don’t find it relaxing to wonder what is going to make me wheeze, what is going to make my nose run, and what is going to make my eyes water. And if I’m outside for more than a hot second, one of the above is going to happen.
I’m not going to be friends with something that’s constantly making me miserable. I need to take that into my interpersonal relationships as well.