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Columns

June 16, 2007

'Roughing it' getting redefined

We are sitting by the ashes of last night's campfire, sipping too-hot instant coffee from paper cups.



"I wonder," my husband says, "if there are any campgrounds that have WiFi."



"Honey!" I say. "That's ridiculous. You can't bring a computer on a camping trip."



"Why is it ridiculous? What about all the people camping in RVs, with their bathrooms and satellite TV?"



We get into a conversation about technology and getting away from it all and what makes camping, camping. He thinks it would be cool to be able to check e-mail or read the day's news from the picnic table next to the campfire; for me, not being connected is a big part of what camping is all about.



There's no question, camping has changed with the times. "Roughing it" used to mean cooking on an open fire and going without hot water and a toilet.



Now, it means going without Internet access, and even that is changing. With technology such as the much-hyped iPhone, campers can listen to music, surf the Web, check e-mail, send text messages and talk on the phone as long they're not too far from an AT&T; cell tower.



My earliest camping experiences were with the Girl Scouts, and they were a lot rougher than any of my recent camping trips. There were A-frame fires lit with one match, middle-of-the-night walks to the latrine and attempts to cook pancakes on a tin-can device called a vagabond stove.



Today, I use fire starters, camp within a three-minute walk from a real toilet and make pancakes on a propane stove. For me, roughing it means sleeping in a tent and eating a marshmallow off a stick I found in the woods.

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