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Happy campers

One leisure activity that has gained popularity because of the COVID-19 pandemic is camping.

The great, well-ventilated and socially-distanced outdoors that we used to ignore in favor of the air-conditioned temples of crass commercialism have suddenly become viable options for those seeking respite from the more than 500 days spent mostly trapped in homes.

This renewed appreciation of the great outdoors is one of the few good things that has come from living under a regime that insists on its brute force pandemic response that has been proven woefully ineffective by the overwhelmingly poor quality of our lifestyle and economy in the past two years.

For those who have been stuck in their homes for what seems like a lifetime, camping provides a much-needed change of scenery at an affordable price and sense of relative safety from the coronavirus.

Accessibility might be an issue in a country that hasn’t been especially kind to nature and the environment but Negrenses are fortunate to live within an hour or two of decent camp grounds and facilities. The growing popularity of this alternate form of relaxation doesn’t come as a surprise.

Camping allows social distancing, provides excellent ventilation, and promotes physical activity. Furthermore, the remoteness of most camping sites give the overworked and mentally harassed a valid reason to be disconnected from bosses and employers who have lost respect boundaries in this work from home, always available era.

This is an underrated leisure activity that has been right under our noses for decades and it would be good to see its renaissance continue even after the pandemic finally comes to an end.

The biggest challenge with what should be a simple activity that only needs the most basic equipment are the availability of good campsites with adequate facilities that can make camping a pleasant experience for first-timers or returning enthusiasts.

I’m fortunate to have access to a privately owned camp site where we have been spending time “camping” in the past few months but as we were fixing the place up or adding equipment to make it decent, we realized how challenging it can be to setup or find a “basic” camp site.

My basic camp site requirements are as follows: a generally level, well-draining area with relatively rock-free ground for the tent; water supply; a fire pit or cooking area; access to a toilet or shower; privacy and a sense of security; decent cellular signal or data; and maybe a source of electricity. Because there is usually no airconditioning, cool temperatures would also be on the wish list and that is why I prefer to camp at the mountains rather than beaches.

The easiest option for first time campers would be to rent a beach or mountain resort and pitch a tent on the grounds if it is allowed by management. That way, when the going gets tough the campers can always tap out of the tent and return to the comforts of an air-conditioned room just a few steps away. This is technically not camping, just “tenting” but because we don’t have a lot of options in this country, it will have to do until a better “campsite” is found.

Because we don’t have an established camping culture and well-managed national parks like other developed countries, there are really not a lot of options when one wants to go camping to get away from the crush of the city and the dreaded Delta variant. Few sites offer camp grounds with basic facilities and those that do are often not well managed and can get tacky and dirty very quickly. Before the rise of camping and its rich cousin glamping, this option that was for those with low budgets wasn’t given much attention.

Hopefully the camping renaissance and the popularity of glamping can lead to the development of better camp grounds and the improved preservation of our beautiful national forests and parks. If well-managed camp grounds with the basic facilities and strict rules are built, the camping enthusiasts will surely come and maybe even stick around well after the pandemic is somehow controlled by a government that knows better than just putting retired generals in charge.*

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