Thursday, August 23, 2007


I have never heard of this "glamping" (glamorous camping) before. I had to check two or three times to make sure this article wasn't a hoax. No, it's really the LA Times Online. And "LA" in this case is Los Angeles, not Louisiana. On the bayou, camping means just that - no maid, no butler, no mint on the pillow. In fact, we eat things that most people try to repel with aerosol spray cans.

I have to admit, this "glamping" thing just plain gives me the creeps. I find it disturbing on a number of levels.

I feel very sorry for the family in this article - especially for the little boy. My goodness! According to his mother, he has never flown coach or stayed in a hotel other than the Four Seasons. The lad wants to go camping and fishing. This is normal, natural, boy behavior. Maybe for once in his life he'd like to experience something other than an artificial hermetically sealed spectator life. Maybe just once he'd like to get his hands all greasy from a bike chain, or get covered in sweat after hiking up the side of a mountain to see a real waterfall (rather than a Disney mock up). But notice his mother in the video clip - she was simply not going to do it. It's all about her, of course. I think she's more spoiled than twenty pounds of shrimp in a Katrina refrigerator. And I wonder how junior will turn out?

Some of the greatest times I ever had in my childhood were camping with my family. And it isn't always 72 degrees and sunny, either. We slept in tents, campers, and our trusty old converted van. My dad and I used to ride motorcycles in all sorts of weather: scorching heat, pouring rain, while camping in a tent in the mountains of West Virginia and Arkansas. We've seen bear cubs up close (don't try this at home), we've seen strange-looking pine trees that only grow on one side due to prevailing winds. Once we were caught in pouring rain for hours on end (while on the cycles) to the point where we were both so stiff in our joints that we felt like the tin man in the Wizard of Oz. On one occasion when I was really little, my mom and dad watched a skunk wander into our tent. I wouldn't trade those experiences for the world!

I just can't imagine what kind of memories I would have had were I pampered and spoiled. I mean, dealing with the discomforts, being flexible and spontaneous enough to change plans on the fly, learning to improvise with materials you have, developing a sense of humor as well as an understanding that we don't control everything around us, not to mention the wonderful family memories are all things people miss while trying to find the "perfect" vacation or striving to keep their children in a "plastic bubble" with a maid and a butler. Lord have mercy! Camping with a maid and butler!

And yes, using an outhouse is important (though it isn't something we did often, but there were times when that's all that was available). It makes you appreciate what you have when you get back home. Besides, the world can be a hostile place. There are hurricanes, terrorist attacks, wars, and all sorts of calamities. The time may come when we may have to dig a latrine, sleep under a lean-to, and figure out what plants to eat in order to survive. When times like those come around (as they inevitably do), the folks who did some real camping will have a better shot than those who had hired hands doing everything for them.

These folks are not doing their son any favors. Why don't they have him join the Boy Scouts? Would that be too much contact with the hoi-polloi?

But isn't that typical of our culture? Why should we expect anything else from parents these days? Selfish, wasteful, lazy, and self-indulgent. People actually think spoiling their children and robbing them of real-world experiences is good parenting. How sad!

I wouldn't trade my memories of camping with my family in a chilly tent with a sleeping bag for all of the plastic and artificial experiences that are for sale to the highest bidder. I can sure appreciate staying at a luxury hotel and enjoying a fine meal, fine drink, and a fine cigar (I once went on a (very cold!) dog-sledding and camping trip in Quebec followed by a one-night stay at the exquisite and civilized Chateau Laurier in Ottawa right next to the Canadian Parliament. It is possible to enjoy both sides of the coin). But if that's all you ever know and do, look at how much you will never see and experience. This is especially sad for kids - most especially boys. They need to get dirt under their nails.

Of course, these days, the greatest luxury of all isn't staying at a Four Seasons or flying first class, it's actually having parents who care about their children and are willing to make sacrifices for the sake of preparing them for life as a well-rounded person. Now that's a luxury that you just can't buy!


Anonymous Lutheran said...

For what it's worth, your indignation reminds me of how I feel when people uses the word camping to describe anything other than sleeping in a tent or in the open. ;-)

generalscuttlebutt said...

In a tent? Listen kiddo, if you're not half naked in the "Frozen Chosin" with Gooks shooting at you it's a luxury cruise. That's all I got to say about that!

Past Elder said...

Frozen Chosen? I thought that was the Presbyterians! (OK before anyone gets all riled up, I heard that one from a Presbyterian.)

I'll put my survival skills on the line -- if it's a matter of survival. Otherwise I don't find knowing the difference between a teaspoon and a tablespoon any real assault on my masculinity. I've enjoyed camping as in canoes and portaging in Minnesota, and do not associate camping with fifth wheels and KOA. These days, roughing it to me is a regular room rather than a suite. As to hostiles, I ain't gonna go there unless some show up.

solarblogger said...

The problem here is not what the mother is or isn't doing. The problem is, no mother can do this for a boy. If she takes him "unglamping" (unglamorous camping), it won't help his development, either. Well, not where it needs the help.

Mom can't build a boy's masculinity. She doesn't have it. The ones who think they do will probably do more damage with their simulated version than would be done leaving things undone. All she could teach would be how hard it is to simulate it. He'll miss the ease of the real thing where it's easy.

I remember an old "Odd Couple" episode. Felix decides to be a big brother. Oscar barges in and offers to take the kid down to the pool hall. When the mother comes back with the boy the next week, Felix attempts an apology for what damage Oscar must have done. The mother stops him. "That was exactly what he needed." Yes, there was some fine-tuning she had to do on his public behavior afterwards. But she knew what she, as a single mom, couldn't offer. Well, that kind of thing was understood better in about 1972.

Father Hollywood said...


I do think mom could go camping along with the family without maids and butlers and all the whining about how sleeping in a tent isn't like sleeping at the Four Seasons and dining at Emeril's. She could go along with the boy's father as the boy learns to fish and hike. She could quit being so self-centered.

With all due respect to the General, camping need not be dodging Korean bullets and trekking in the Himalayas in a loincloth eating Yeti droppings (as fun as that might be). I do think sleeping in a tent, hiking, and telling stories over a fire can be enjoyed by the whole family. Maids, butlers, fancy wines and dining, and bills of hundreds of dollars a day turn the experience into something plastic and phony.

Like I said, my family went camping together, and it was a blast. I loved being around both my mother and my father. My mom was not masculine in the least, and yet she did enjoy the closeness we all had when being together on trips like this, seeing the flora and fauna, and the mountains.

The mother could also allow her son to join the Boy Scouts so he could learn (and enjoy) more primitive camping and survival skills. She could also knock off the first class plane tickets on every occasion and give him the occasional experience of riding a subway, a bike, or a bus. I don't think parents do their children any good by sheltering them like this.

Mothers have a huge role in their sons' development into men (just as fathers are crucial to their daughters' growth into women) - and I think this lady (and her husband) are dropping the ball.

They're putting their snobbery ahead of their children.

solarblogger said...

FH, I agreed with probably every line in your post about what the mother should have done and what was wrong with her. I just don't want to leave out the deeper problem here, as real as all the other ones are. My comments would probably go without saying in another time. But in our own time, I think they need to be stated.

While we did a lot of traveling together, our family had one main camping trip to Lake Shasta when I was younger. It rained almost every day the whole week. And it was awesome. We played an uncountable number of games of "Spoons."

I am still up for strenuous hiking, but have a hard time sleeping in a tent after the bear encounter my last trip to Yosemite.