Rat makes more sense to me now that I am older

(Pearls Before Swine)

I went camping just once. There were about ten of us and it was just after we had finished our final exams at college, before the results were released and we had to start work. We camped on the eastern coast of Sri Lanka next to the wonderful warm and calm ocean and the golden sandy beaches. The whole area was empty of people, just coconut trees and other vegetation. Sleeping in the open near the ocean under the night sky where we could see so many stars that were invisible in the city was a real experience. None of us really knew much about camping and any seasoned camper would have been horrified at our ineptness but I recall that we all had a great time.

A few years ago, I returned to that same area that we had camped as students . It was unrecognizable. It has now been utterly transformed with luxury hotels all along the beachfront. All that remains of what I remembered are the sandy beaches and the warm, placid ocean.

Some of my friends on that trip still enjoy camping but I have no desire to do so anymore. In particular, a decent bathroom is one thing that I am very reluctant to voluntarily do without.


  1. Jörg says

    My desire for camping dwindled away on a 90 km (56 miles) hike with the German army, 40 years ago.

  2. anat says

    We occasionally go camping. Sometimes even backpacking. When I tell my father about it he reminds me to look at my birth certificate and calculate my age. Then I tell him one of our friends who initiated the outing and who camps a lot more frequently than us is in her 70s. I really hope to be able to camp into my 70s as well.

  3. Reginald Selkirk says

    There are different levels of camping. The kind I am comfortable with is “car camping,” in which you pack a tent and whatever else you need in the trunk of your car, park in a designated campground which has toilet facilities and running water, and set up your tent. You might make day hikes, you might take the car to do things.
    I have never been backpacking in the back country, where you would have to carry everything in your pack, bury your own excrement, etc. I wouldn’t want to undertake anything hazardous (bear country, desert hiking, etc.) unless I had someone knowledgeable to guide me.


    Longtime camper here, now in my 70’s, still going strong. We even bought 10 acres of rugged land at the beginning of covid in order to camp without exposure to others. For all of you who don’t camp, thank you and hurrah -- the wilderness is too crowded as is.

  5. Matt G says

    I started camping with my family, then with the Boy Scouts. I still love it, but have transitioned from tents to hammocks (which are much easier on my back and other parts). I exceeded a year’s worth of camping a few years ago, which means I’ve spent more than 2% of my life doing it.

  6. blf says

    That makes me think of the background of Pepper, the female member of The Them, in Good Omens (Terry Pratchett & Neil Gaiman):

    Pepper’s given first names were Pippin Galadriel Moonchild. She had been given them in a naming ceremony in a muddy valley field that contained three sick sheep and a number of leaky polythene teepees.

    Her mother had chosen the Welsh valley of Pant-y-Gyrdl as the ideal site to Return to Nature. (Six months later, sick of the rain, the mosquitoes, the men, the tent trampling sheep who ate first the whole commune’s marijuana crop and then its antique minibus, and by now beginning to glimpse why almost the entire drive of human history has been an attempt to get as far away from Nature as possible, Pepper’s mother returned to Pepper’s surprised grandparents in Tadfield, bought a bra, and enrolled in a sociology course with a deep sigh of relief.)

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