Climbing The Camping Social Ladder

By Kimberly Gonzalez
SNPJ Associate Editor

Although there is snow falling today, I was happy to sport flip flops and shorts the last three days. Yes, that’s Western Pa. weather for ya – sunny and 75 one day, snow and sleet the next. But that small glimpse of what’s to come was enough to get me excited for summer. For most, Memorial Day weekend is the unofficial kick-off of the summer season, though technically it doesn’t begin until June 21. And if you’re as antsy as me to get the season started, you already have plans in place for May 23-26. This Memorial Day weekend is taking me camping, and I couldn’t be more excited.

Camping has always been a favorite pastime of mine. As a child, my family and I seemed to camp almost every weekend. We traveled to campgrounds all around the tri-state area, rarely visiting the same place twice. When we weren’t exploring new destinations, we’d travel just a few miles down the road and head out into the woods to spots you couldn’t reach by car. We were lucky enough to have a ton of friends and family that enjoyed camping as much as we did, so we were never alone on our adventures. I have so many great memories from camping trips that it’s no wonder I still love it as much as I do.

Of course, with so many years under my belt I’ve managed to work my way up the “camping social ladder,” as I like to call it. My early days were filled with leaky tents and sleeping bags, long before inflatable air mattresses were a common accommodation. We cooked with tinfoil and fire, and relied on jugs of water for cleaning both our utensils and ourselves. Over the course of a few summers, we moved from a tent to pop-up camper to travel trailer. With each increase in size came more amenities: mattresses, sinks with running water, even heating and air conditioning! About four years ago, my parents “graduated” to a permanent site at a campground just an hour away. Although this newer and larger trailer may have converted them from campers to “glampers” (those who mix the great outdoors with comforts of hotel-style living), it has become their home-away-from-home each summer.

In late August of last year, I purchased a camper. After going through three tents in just as many summers, it was time to move on up the camping social ladder. It’s certainly not one of those mansions-on-wheels that you see on travel shows, but it’s perfect for me. Compared to tent camping, there’s very little set-up involved and I stay much warmer when it’s cold and cooler when it’s warm. Not to mention I don’t have to worry about soggy blankets and clothes if (and when) it decides to rain. Since it was so late in the summer when I purchased it, I was only about to take it out twice before it was time to park it during the winter months. Now, with camper in hand and a full summer ahead, I’m ready to enjoy my home-away-from-home. It may not be considered “glamping” to most, but after years and years of tenting, it sure will feel like it.

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