Tent at Kehl Springs


Friends and long-time acquaintances will know that I’ve clocked up more hours camping than most can hope to in a lifetime, and I’ve done so in most every conceivable configuration: From sleeping with nothing but a sleeping bag under the stars or even a primitive lean-to to staying in a self-contained truck camper with everything except a toilet. (OK, I’ve never actually gone camping in one of those fully-equipped motor homes, but I would if the opportunity presented itself.)

My camping “credentials” are not in question.

I present that information as a preface so I can rant about something that bugs the shit out of me.

Camping is about being out and away from the city (and in our case, the accursed heat of summer) in a more outdoors environment.  It is not defined by your willingness to shit over a log or into a shallow grave you’ve just dug with a trenching shovel for your poo.

I often hear the Slippery Slope argument that says once you start shitting in a toilet, you might as well bring the motorhome, the satellite TV, showers and portable sauna; however, the Slippery Slope argument is a Logical Fallacy.

It’s not just the Slippery Slope logical fallacy either, there’s also the more honest, “I’m just a elitist jackass argument,” AKA The No True Scotsman argument – or, as it’s more correctly known, the No true Scotsman Logical Fallacy.

This one is more pure.  Instead of making up ridiculous (and irrelevant) consequences that will destroy the once noble pastime of camping, they’re actually disparaging people who don’t think like they do.

“No true camper would do any less than shit in a shallow poo grave.” Thereby attempting to give themselves some perceived moral high ground.

The hypocrisy of both those arguments irritates me no end, for I know of no one that makes those types of arguments that walks, without any equipment, barefoot and naked from their homes to their chosen place of camping.

“No True Camper would ever wear clothes into the woods and if they did, they might as well bring a generator and Japanese toilet seat to gently clean their asses after shitting.”

Yes, it irritates me.

We all have our idea of what “real camping” is and we all have our own definition of what’s too primitive and what’s too citified.

My definition of what’s too primitive usually involves the difficulty in shitting.  I can barely manage using squat toilets in Asia – I will go a long way to avoid using squat toilets.

I feel much the same way about shitting in the woods.  Digging a hole and squating over it is… well, it’s basically exactly the same as Asian squat toilets – except that the forest floor isn’t usually awash in piss.  (Here’s something I thought I’d never say, “Score one point for crapping in a hole in the woods.”)

At the opposite end of the spectrum, I typically think that if you’ve brought a generator to the woods, you’ve probably gone too far.  Not because I have anything against electricity or even electric conveniences, but generators tend to be noisy and that’s a bit inconsiderate of others that might be in the area.

So those are my personal preferences that I’ve formed throughout my life – acceptable camping,  for me as exists between the availability of toilets and lack of generators.

Food, warmth and a rain-proof roof over my head are also virtual necessities.

That said, I’ve discovered a terrible truth about life. What works for a 20 year old does not necessarily work for an almost 50 year old.

The inescapable truth is that I can no longer sleep on the ground.  If I lie on my back, the arms and shoulders go numb; on my stomach, my ribs ache like they’re breaking; on my side, my neck and lower back lock into a painful pretzel.  I’m old and I can’t do what I used to do.  Some form of mattress is now part of the minimum essentials for camping.

But it’s still camping!