And just like that, the snow is melted and camping season is upon us. Camping. Has there ever been a more polarizing leisure activity? Personally, I hesitate to even call it a leisure activity. It’s more of an extreme sport. Elective torture, perhaps? Either way, it comes with a presumption of relaxation but is actually just a tricky way to do work. More work. All the work.

Think of a cumbersome task around the home — yard maintenance, cooking, fire prevention — then add bugs, the elements of nature and a lack of running water. That’s camping. It’s basically taking all the things you have to do every single day and making them slightly harder.

But we have collective camping amnesia. It sounds so romantic sleeping out under the stars, roasting marshmallows over a roaring fire, waking to the birds chirping in the fresh, crisp air.

Nature is just so relaxing, isn’t it?

So you willingly spend hours packing the car full of mobile versions of everything in your house, you sit in traffic on your way to a “remote” location. You unpack, unload, rebuild your life and build a fire. All of which has to happen before dark but after a full day’s work, so on top of being a burden, it’s also stressful.

Somehow the moment you crack that first beer open, kick your feet up next to the fire and look up at the stars, for just a moment, it’s all worth it.

So you stay one night, maybe two, three seems excessive. After a few days, everyone is cranky and sunburned. The food that was previously on ice is now submerged in water, the toilet paper is running low. You are somehow covered in both industrial strength DEET and the bites of bugs who laughed in the face of death.

It is at this point that the real fun begins. Everything that was unpacked must now be repacked. As an added bonus, everything you own is filthy, sometimes wet, always smelling of campfire. You, too, are dirty and smelly. When the car is finally packed and you’re about to get in the driver’s seat, you look at how clean it is and wonder how dirty you are. Never mind the seat; you can steam-clean it later. Right now, there is only one goal. You sit in traffic again; you get home, unpack everything, unroll your tent on the front lawn to let it dry and cringe at the waste of all the leftover, water-logged food you must throw away. You put all the clothes, most of which you didn’t wear, in the washing machine.

Congratulations, you have successfully camped. Now comes the moment you have been waiting for. You finally experience the relaxation you were seeking as you embark on the best part of the whole experience: the post-camping shower.

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