The Rantings - For Everyone

The Anxiety from the Idea of Camping

When I was a kid, I had a few camping experiences that turned me off of camping altogether.

There was an earwig in the tent the first time I ever slept in one. Someone told the kids they crawled into your ears. I hated tents. The first time I went camping, for real camping, was the first time I ever spent a huge chunk of time away from my parents – in another province across the country with a bunch of strangers, half of whom spoke French, a language that is still utterly foreign to me.

We had to canoe to the tiny island we were sleeping on. I had burnt my finger on a woodburner and was terribly miserable. Plus, I was in a cabin with a bunch of girls who basically hated my guts, so sleeping in the tent full of them, scared of the possibility of earwigs, sucked!!! Then, I had to pee desperately, but someone had said that there were Sasquatch on this island and I swore I saw one (chances are,  it was just another camper going pee…), so I stayed in my tent until the sun came up holding my pee in, crying, while everyone else slept soundly. I woke up the next morning to really bad sunburn on my nose…

My next and last camping experience really put the nail in the coffin.

I’d been at the same school for about three years (the longest I ever stayed at one school) and had been the butt of some pretty harsh bullying. I remember being called “bra-lady” because someone had seen my sports bra in gym class. I remember a lot of getting picked on because of how skinny I was – lots of “do you ever eat?” and “she must throw it all up afterwards” and “I can see your bones! It’s gross!“. And the girls were especially mean to me, not entirely sure why. So, the idea of spending 3 days on a mountaintop with these people was already unappealing.

We arrived and had to take a rickety carriage ride up the side of a steep mountain pulled by two huge and terrifying Clydesdales. They made me, and me alone, sit up front with the old man who laughed when I squeaked as the seat rattled beneath me. We had to walk the remainder of the way up this mountainside to get to the main camping area.

Wooden platforms covered in tarp is how we slept. There was a good six inches between the top of the platform and the bottom of the tarp and the mosquitoes were out of control. The water we drank was warm and the only food I ate the whole time we were there was bread, because the idea of beans totally grosses me out. The whole group that I bunked with were some of my worst bullies and picked on me for every reason they could possibly find.

We had two activities we were allowed to do during the day. Ride horses or go mountain biking. I desperately wanted to ride the horses – there weren’t enough of them, I was too afraid. So, I go mountain biking, but no one tells me that the brakes work differently on a mountain bike. I don’t remember how I fell, but I ended up wrapped up in the bike and one of the supervisors had to come and untangle me – in front of everyone!!!

I went home covered in bites and bruises – literally and metaphorically!!!

Ever since, I have basically said, I won’t camp. I don’t like camping. Camping is not for me.

However, The Boyfriend and his family absolutely love camping. They all have very fond memories of camping with very skilled campers. His Mom has been saying for years that she’s going to take us out camping – she knows how to do it right – she assures me that all these problems I’ve had in the past won’t exist when we go camping, because she’ll make sure I have a great time. She’s never been wrong!

Today, we’re up there visiting and the camping plan begins. Most years, it begins and everyone gets real excitement but then we all realize the burden of our lives and it just gets pushed back another year. But this year, it began, everyone got real excited and then, everyone realized how possible it was. For the first time, it’s possible.

And… Queue panic attack…

I have an issue with the vastness of space. The unknowns of the universe. 

The first time I looked at the moon through a telescope, I got dizzy and lightheaded and then I got scared – really scared. When I see northern lights, I panic about how fast they are moving and I can feel the earth rotate beneath me. When we went out to utter darkness to watch the Perseid Meteor Shower, I couldn’t get out of the van because I was frozen in the fear.

I don’t want to have another bad camping experience.

I don’t want to be sitting in the tent in the middle of the night, under the vastness of space, heart racing, palms sweating, unable to sleep, surrounded by people and yet being entirely alone! I don’t want to be pestering an exhausted camper to stay awake with me when the irrational anxiety hits after the fire has burnt out…

I want to do it. I want to go camping so bad and have this experience that everyone insists is possible!

But, the idea of it… The thought of it… Absolutely terrifies me…