What is happening to our outdoor activities that is changing them from traditional ways? Are these new ways taking enjoyment away from camping for example? Have we complicated things?
Unfortunately I think the world of the outdoors; bushcraft, survival, camping, fishing, hiking, whatever you want to call it has become polluted. It seems some of the enjoyment of the outdoors has become dirtied. Sharing with others what you like to do is commonly mocked by those who think everything exists to be sensationalized. It’s sad how the “progress” of our culture has at the same time robbed us of the fun and enjoyment that used to be. Oh, and it’s not just the bushcraft part of things that’s changed, even words that used to mean harmless fun things are now thought of as crass, or depraved, or demeaning. Songs that used to be thought of as pleasant are now considered lame and idiotic. The whole of our society has changed. What has happened to us?
Must we be critics of all that is? Can we not enjoy something just for the sake of it? Have we become so dependent on the drug of entertainment served up in our lives that everything before us must constantly be more and more spectacular? Have we lost ourselves? Can we not simply enjoy our daily lives, the little ordinary things?
At times it is almost sickening how much of the culture of survival and bushcraft seems to be absolutely filled with “experts” who know everything. People who cannot even just watch what is presented without feeling the need to say, “it should have been done this way, the way you did it was stupid,” or “you have no business being in the woods.” There are many ways to make shelter or start a fire, there are quite a variety of knots that can be used. Appreciate the variety, one day one of them may save your life.
There is it seems also an insatiable desire for light weight in everything; shoes, bikes, backpacks, containers, shelters, cooking gear, food, etc. At times this is warranted, since every pound that must be carried is that much more work. But it’s hard to believe that everyone is always going camping 20 miles back in somewhere; nothing wrong with that, but surely most are just a few miles in. I have had so many wonderful camps where I just pull off the road somewhere, and hike in a mile, or even just half a mile. Is there some directive that says camping will not be fun if a great distance is not covered? Is camping by car demeaning? I love the book by David Wescott, “Camping in the Old Style” which seeks to bring back some of the joy of camping when it was classic. Canvas tents, iron cookware, oil lanterns, sleeping on a tick not a $120 air mattress, it’s a great book, I haven’t got his new one yet, but I will. Someone asked the question recently, and I can’t recall who it was, “has backpacking ruined camping?” It is an interesting thing to ponder. Who says that camping is backpacking? A person can camp while backpacking, but backpacking is not camping. There are so many ways and places to camp, why limit yourself to freeze dried meals and risky shelter when you can really enjoy yourself. I really like to bring in steak for a dinner meal, or even a few vegetables to cut up and cook for a stew, there is nothing like a stew cooking over a campfire.
Does every hike, every bike ride, does every walk really have to be faster than the last one? Is there no time anymore to listen to the bubbling of the creek, can we not linger long enough to see the fawn peek out from her grazing? Can a person actually sit on the edge of mountain ridge for an hour, or hey, maybe half a day, absorbing all that is? Speed kills, yes it does, it blurs all the beauty of the world in which we live.
Now personally I don’t really care what someone says about me because I’m doing what I want to do, I choose what I do, no one tells me. What is unfortunate is that which many of these folks are missing out on, being either very limited in their scope of acceptable experience, or simply and tragically, “couch potatoes.” I love sharing things I do outdoors, some are funny, some are flops and failures, some are valuable. I’m out camping nearly every week all year long in whatever weather is going on, and I love all of it. To me it’s an experience in reality, there is always something to learn, something to appreciate, and most of all something to think about.
Finally, the reason I started writing this little essay, to those of you who comment on my postings or videos saying to me, “BS, prove it, you’re a nutcase, what an idiot you are,” and on and on. You are missing the whole point of all I do. I constantly encourage everyone to get outside and enjoy the nature we have around us, I am trying to lead others to stretch a little, try some things, have a little adventure, that’s what I do, and I love it. What happened to people with gusto, with courage, with some self esteem, the proving of things is up to you, I have already done what I have done. You try it, go ahead make your own adventure. It doesn’t have to be on some deserted island, you can do a lot of it in your own backyard. What point is there for me to do what you think is acceptable, yes I’m different than you are, I may be interested in trying something you may not want to do, perhaps because it’s too cold for you, perhaps you don’t want to get off your couch and venture even a little bit into the outside world. Actually I just want to help people love the world around them and to really do it, you have to do it yourself. You see it’s the experience that counts, that’s where the memories are. No excursion is a failure because each one is a learning exercise, if you choose to make it so.
Until next time, this is Perry Peacock for “Simplifying Survival” –Get out there and do it–