Camping trips are a great way to experience nature and the great outdoors. The thought of packing bags with traditional camping gear easily gets my blood racing regardless of the time of year. There’s something about the nature of camping accessories that distinguishes these expeditions from the usual non-camping trips. It is not every day that one sleeps in a tent and wakes up surrounded by trees and creepy crawling little neighbors, either on lakeside or at the foot of a mountain. Each area of wilderness has its distinct aroma that swiftly reminds you that this is not your bedroom. I can never get enough of such amazing experiences.
My first and best camping trip happened when I was still in junior high as a boy scout. The experience left a profound impression that would shape my life decades later. Armed with ropes and bush survival skills imparted to us just before departure we ventured into a conservancy area where we did not pitch any tents. Instead, the entire team demarcated spaces on the ground using stones to distinguish each member’s personal space. We were clad in the original khaki shorts, button-up shirts and broad-brimmed hats of the late ’80s.
Apart from maintaining the cleanliness of one’s designated personal area, we generally worked as a team. We gathered firewood and lit fires by rubbing sticks taken from surrounding trees. The entire team took turns to prepare food in the aluminum camping pots we had borrowed from our parents. Led by a few teachers, we were a group of little city boys determined to survive the harsh African wilderness with very little to protect us from the elements. We let nothing stop us from enjoying the moonlit-but-eerie nights in the open after having left nervous but proud mothers at home.
Sunrise in the Wilderness
Mornings greeted us with the bright sunlight that initially shone on our campsite as streaks of light struggling to bypass the maze of trees blocking its way. This remained the case until mid-mornings when it would rise right above the site with a bemused but glowing appearance. The afternoons were spent exploring the conservancy, cooking, eating, cleaning and going through our scouting drills. Learning to tie various types of knots with ropes took a new dimension as we discovered practical uses of our skills in the bush. Despite spending only two nights at the campsite, everyone left with the general feeling of having connected with nature in the most profound way.