Posted on August 30 2015
Few things distinguish a man like his ability to weather the natural world. And how ironic that what sets us apart from the animals is that we rarely need to. Modern society stresses amenities like never before. In a world where even “books” need to charge up for us to turn them on, and wifi is the difference between a coffee shop and a coffee stand, it’s easy to forget where we come from.
We need to be connected to the Earth, even if we sometimes forget. One of the best ways to rekindle this connection is to spend time in nature’s raw state. I’m talking about camping. But as men, we do not camp like children. We do not require our electronics or a generator to power them. Men camp. And when camping, one rule dictates everything after it: no stress allowed. Anything that can detract from our connecting to nature must be left behind to dissolve in our wake. To highlight the difference let us look on the things we all need for a good relaxing camping trip.
Fire is the most basic requirement. You must have fire. I don’t care if it’s 100 degrees. When the sun goes down, a fire must be burning. For this reason, it is satisfactory to use whatever means you are comfortable with. I personally build fires using kindling and newspaper. So a trusty hatchet is imperative, as well as several newspapers, and of course the larger pieces of wood for when the fire gets going. But dousing wood in lighter fluid is adequate if that equates to less stress. Lighter fluid is fun anyway.
Shelter is a given. We all need protection from the elements at times. Muscles can’t block the rain. And while we can guess what the weather will be like, there’s compelling reason to prepare. But, if you are convinced it won’t be an issue, few experiences in life compare to sleeping beneath the stars. This of course depends on where you choose to camp. But if the stars are visible, consider giving it a shot. Set up a nice flat spot by the fire, perhaps with a foam mattress or a cushion, whatever bedding you prefer, and see how you like it. A tent or a trailer is convenient. They may keep the bears out (kind of) and they may offer some security. But as men, we relish the chance to fight a bear anyway. Are you really going to pass that up?
Food is also an obvious factor. It can be rewarding to cook your own dinner, but remember rule number one? No stress. If the idea of cooking over a bare fire is stressful, you are under oath to simplify at once. But if you’re okay with it, prepare ahead of time and go for it. Cooking a steak over the fire can be as simple as setting up a space for a pan on top of the flames and turning it occasionally. For breakfast, preparing pancake mix beforehand and storing it in a (cleaned) ketchup bottle makes it absurdly easy to make in the morning. But beyond the three-square-meals mantra, camping means relaxing, hiking, climbing rocks, relaxing, exploring, and relaxing. All of those things require plenty of snacks, so stock up on your favorite chips or whatever.
Finally, beer. Camping is not camping without beer. If you don’t like beer then why are we even talking? It is liquid bread. The sustenance of a man’s soul. When camping be certain to have an ice chest full of enough beer to sustain you throughout your sabbatical, and then some. You never know if that bear you beat up earlier will cry uncle, high five you for being such a beast, and ask if he can chill for a while, and if you have no beer to offer that poor guy, you will feel like a real douche. He just got beat up. He’s probably embarrassed, and you don’t even have enough beer for him? Of course you do. You’re a man.
Now get packing.