Camping Misconceptions–The Dirty Dozen

camp site
Camping is very different from what many non-campers think it is.

We spend a significant amount of time correcting camping misconceptions.  Some have to do with food, some have to do with health, and others with everything else that is camping. Here’s the top twelve:

1.  Less is More.

Unless you plan on spending all of your trip hiking, or unless you are into survivalist or minimalist camping, less is definitely not more. Some people don’t want to go camping because that’s the philosophy they think all campers go by. People like to be warm, dry, comfortable, entertained and well-fed. Spending time working on each of these points before camping ensures a successful trip.  I know whereof I speak. We have people clamoring to go with us when we camp, and why?  Because we spend a significant time on ways to cover those five concerns.

2.  You Lose Significant Amounts of Body Heat Through Your Head.

Nonsense. How much of your body is comprised of your head? Do people think that somehow heat rises up through the body and “steams” out the top?  Check out this interesting article from Live Science to be in the know:


3.  Camping Means Canned Beans Until You Go Back Home.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again–my family often eats better when camping than we do at home. You just need the right recipes, and sometimes a little prep before leaving on your camping trip. Some people belong to “Gourmet Camping Groups”, that is, fellow campers who believe in mixing nature with excellent food and drink.  We go a step further and combine excellent food and drink with bush camping. Once you know how to do that, you’ll never return to canned beans.  In fact, you may have to be dragged out of the bush kicking and screaming.

4.  A Bigger Fire is Better.

It must be admitted that in our foolish camping youth many of my family members,

Big campfire
No. Smaller is better when camping in the woods.

including me, felt that way.  It is wrong.  A hotter fire is better. You can have a huge fire that threatens to burn down British Columbia and it won’t do anything except make everyone’s eyes water and have them run around trying to get away from the smoke or changing where they sit around the fire like some kind of demented sooty musical-chairs game. On the other hand, you can have a fire of legal regulation size that puts heat out like you wouldn’t believe, which is the subject of the Youtube video that you can access here.

5.  You Can Only Camp in Summer When  It’s Dry.

Boy Howdie, is that inaccurate! Some of the best trips I’ve ever been on were during rainy season, or during winter.  During times like that no one is around, except for you, nature and maybe one or two like-minded die-hards like yourself. And isn’t that what you go camping for? To get away from it all? Maybe most people as well?  I thought so.  This website is full of suggestions on how to enjoy your camping trip in spite of rain.  Follow the suggestions and try it out.  It’s worth it, believe me.

6.  You Can’t Take Your Cat Camping.

Tiger was a good camping companion, but at dusk you had to watch him–he’d start marching out into the woods to go hunting.

O.K.–this is partly true. Taking your cat camping can be a devastating experience for the both of you if you are not prepared or your cat is the wrong temperament. My old boy, a huge, cinnamon-colored tom called Tiger, had a brief and successful camping life.  But it was at a key point in his life; he was healthy enough to deal with the stress of travel and used to a harness so we could curb his wandering tendencies. My tent was huge, had screen doorways and was escape proof so he could enjoy the weather and still be safe. I tell friends now that unless you have a good-sized kennel and an escape-proof tent, and your cat is harness trained, do him and yourself a favor and make alternate arrangements for him to stay somewhere safe until you get back.

7.  Once You Set Up Camp In The Bush, Your Dog Can Run Free.

Nuh-uh, not if you love your dog. That is the worst time you can let him off-leash. You not only have to contend with ticks which can be picked up anywhere there are grasses, but a dog off-leash who gets excited when a forest creature shows up is in real danger of being bitten by rabid animal or even mauled or mutilated by a larger one. Bears don’t take kindly to smaller canines mouthing off at them at the top of their lungs.

8.  Camping is a Matter of Packing Up Your Supplies and Off You Go!

Sure…if you want an experience that ensures you never want to camp again. The rule of thumb to live by, and by that I mean never forget, is:

Plan, Plan, Plan. You cannot make too many lists. Like brilliantly successful parties, the more you plan, the more successful your camping trip will be.

It’s another reason why people like to go camping with us; because we plan for every eventuality.

9.  Camping Is Romantic.

Camping is NOT romantic.  If you plan for it, camping can have romantic moments. But you have to plan for it.  See point #8.

10.  Over-planning Can Kill The Joy of Camping.

I’m sure by now you are beginning to see a bit of a theme developing. In point of fact there is a grain of truth to misconception #10, but it has to do with the type of planning that you make.  Your planning should have everything to do with dealing with eventualities, and nothing to do with controlling people’s desires. Put activities in place, but make it a rule that no one has to be involved.  If a person wants to nap the whole camping trip, let them. If they want to hike from sunrise to sunset, by all means if they are prepared let them do so.  Let everyone know ahead of time that if an activity is planned and they want to involve themselves they can, and make them welcome.  But never, ever insist they must.

11. Once Your Tent is Pitched And Your Chair is in Front of the Fire, You Can Relax.

You can take a breather, sure, but if you want to be someone people love to camp with, and you want to enjoy your trip more, never make that assumption.  The further you are away from civilization, and by that I mean everything including lodges, campgrounds and the like, the more important it is for you to pitch in and help. On the surface this may seem like the opposite of a vacation, but camping is hard work sometimes. Helping out makes you a hero to those who don’t know how to camp and those who take the brunt of the workload alike, and makes you feel great about yourself, and so you should!

12. Do What You Want and Feel How You Want to Feel.

While I agree that doing what you want to do while camping is important (it’s one of our rules), the feeling that you shouldn’t pitch in to make the campsite enjoyable in some way is a mistake when camping with others. That’s a poor attitude no matter where you are in life. Do yourself and everyone else a favor and set your heart to be optimistic while camping.  Don’t complain. See and point out the positive side of things if stuff happens (and it will). Help out where it’s wanted, and don’t butt in where it’s not. Go with the flow.

One last misconception.

One of our steady camping companions has had more wilderness and camping experience, I think, than all of our family and friends put together.  He has lived in the BC wilderness, camped, bow-hunted bears (which I take issue with but we have agreed to disagree and don’t bring the subject up ever), and has been a wilderness and hunting guide.  He now camps almost exclusively with my family.  Why? Not only do we pitch in and do what we can, but here’s a quote from him:  “I’ve heard of the saying, ‘laugh in the morning, cry at night’, but you guys laugh in the morning, you laugh in the afternoon, and you’re still laughing at night.” You can give your fellow campers a great gift. Don’t be upset, and don’t stress if things go wrong. Trust me, it will make everyone feel great. If you have any questions or comments about these or other misconceptions, drop a comment! I’d love to hear from you.

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