During my brief stint as a Born Again (long story, different column) I learned Thessalonians 5:21, which instructs us (depending on which version of the Bible you probably don't have in your hand at the moment) to "test all things; hold fast that which is good."
I always liked that verse, because it's permissive to the adventurous of spirit and curious of mind, while leaving room for choosing "no." It's meant to guide folks when met with a new prophesy, but it's an idea that applies equally well to dating, jobs, blues albums, friendships, craft beer, apartments and Mexican restaurants. And it might be why I'm considering camping next weekend.
What I remember about camping as a kid is driving for a really long time, then arriving on site and spending the rest of the day doing chores: collecting firewood, washing dishes in a bucket, entertaining my baby sister and listening to my stepdad freak out about the doings of whichever dog we had at the time. Then a cramped, bad night's sleep, and another long drive with everyone grumpy and mashed into the car.
It'd be an understatement to call the experiences mildly unpleasant; the fact is, I grew to hate camping.
Since moving out on my own, my interest in camping has grown a whisper. Friends return from trips and post pictures on Facebook, smiling, dirty, beer in hand, BB guns and smoldering campfires in the background.
In the past few years, I've taken to driving up for the day, setting up tents and BB gun targets, joking and wandering the woods, splashing around in the water. And then at the end of the day, I drive back to my own bed because I have insomnia and like to stack the deck when it comes to a good night's rest. Plus, last year, I met a guy who'd just gotten his ass bit through his tent in the middle of the night by a bear.
But last weekend, friends invited me to go "Fudge Stripe Camping." They allege they're only referring to the Keebler cookies; let's hope that's true or it's gonna be a pretty weird weekend.
I've been wracking my brain for the past week trying to figure out how to be successful this time; success being measured by whether or not I actually sleep in my tent this time instead of handing it off to someone else and slipping out in the night.
Besides what I assume is the standard camping accoutrement (cast-iron pan, Red Ryder BB gun, hammock, pocket knife for whittling), I think I have what's necessary for me to actually sleep outdoors: an ugly, technicolor tent, an inflatable bed, fluffy pillows, luxurious bedding, a lantern I plan to modify into a fancy chandelier and Valium. And so my ass won't get bit by bears and mountain lions, I plan to leave a box of cookies far from my tent and close to my friends'.
Here's hoping I have the nerve to test this new thing, and decide it is good. I'd like to join the folks from the earlier bit of Thessalonians — "they that sleep, sleep in the night, and they that be drunken are drunken in the night."
I'm not sure this applies to camping, but I'll take it.