By Craig Funston
There are some things I love to do, the odd thing I’m okay with doing, and other things you would never catch me doing.
So I confess that I just spent the better part of a week doing something I thought I would never be caught doing. Some would call it wilderness camping. I would call it “Daniel Boone meets Survivor.”
After all, what else would you call four days without wi-fi, electricity, and running water? The “no wi-fi” was fine: We campers all spent a lot time talking to each other, you know, the old-fashioned way of communicating. The “no electricity” was fine, too: I couldn’t use my clock radio or shave with my electric razor, but, then, I had a watch and I don’t use an electric razor.
The third inconvenience, no running water, was slightly more aggravating, although we drew water from the river and worked the gravity angle. It was the showers (or the lack thereof) that were the biggest problem.
Uhmm, maybe that’s why they gave the flies and me our own tent…
The camp was about an hour and a half west of nowhere, though I suppose nearby Nanton or Longview should count as “somewhere.” They call that part of Alberta “Kananaskis country.”
My primary role for the week was that of a teacher, and as challenging as that is, that was nothing like the challenges of the rest of the stay. So let me repeat them (as I try to win some more sympathy):
Challenges? I propose that not having a shower for four days was a challenge for both for me and for those within fifteen feet of me. Challenges, as having no lights at all, except the flashlight that I forgot in my tent each each night. Without a light in my hand, I can’t begin to tell you how many trees I met face-to-face, as I stumbled back to my tent like a drunk logger.
Other challenges included being in different rooms that I’m not used to: not a bathroom, but an outhouse; not a kitchen, but an open-fire pit (and eating every meal that was cooked on it); and not a classroom with benches, but a thick canvas hung over logs and hand-made seats.
By Wednesday, I began to wonder if this was 1816, not 2016.
“Roughing it” was actually more enjoyable than I imagined. What I did there was eat, sleep, and visit, just like home. To be sure, there were no switches or buttons, but I survived. Okay, a little more dark and smelly, but more or less the same.
I would add “chill” here, but that has a double meaning: Chill by day was hanging out; but chill by night meant a cold sleep. How I forgot to bring my teddy bear is beyond me.
I wasn’t camping in the purist sense of the word: Someone else did the cooking, had the tent already set up for me (but I had to share it with four other workers); and I didn’t really have to do any prep or maintenaince work—you know, chop wood, fetch water, fend off bears, cougars, and sasquatches.
This particular camp was a rustic off-shoot of another one that was slightly more “refined” (refined: wi-fi, electrcity, and running water) and a little closer to civilization. It was a base for wilderness camps (even more rugged than where I was).
They call it Blue Bronna, though I’m not clear what was “blue” or “bronna” about the camp. It attracts workers, usually university students, who have a heart for Alberta’s young people. They were great kids, and it was invigorating to work with such wholesome, energetic youth.
I would go back, but I said I don’t like camping, remember? I like my conveniences, but I can certainly live without them—even for a few days in the wilderness. Just don’t let my wife read this column: I have played this “I-don’t-like-camping” card for thirty-five years. I’d be toast if she ever found out I enjoyed as much as I did.
That would be toast on an open-fire, of course.