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The Ambivalent Black Girl's Guide to Camping

The Ambivalent Black Girl's Guide to Camping

Contributor: Jasmine Maia

As a child I went camping once with my Brownie Troop.  Sadly, one of my troop mates was stricken with a cruel stomach virus.  Her vocal misery, which lasted all night long, still rings in my brain.  It may shock you to know I wasn’t terribly inclined to camp again…until last weekend. 

 

I decided to accompany a friend to Delaware - Cape Henelopen State Park.  While preparing, I spoke to people who were equally unfamiliar with camping.  Many folks of color were especially curious about my decision to camp.  Camping last weekend was enriching and rejuvenating, but there are pieces of advice to keep in mind when planning your own camping expedition, especially if you are unsure or ambivalent. 

 

Research:  Whether glamping or camping, research your potential camp site.  Read about fees and requirements.  Is the location secluded?  Rowdy during a festival?  Are there bath houses for showers and toileting? Is your site a nudist haven?  With Google, there is no reason to be surprised about your site. 

 

Mind the Time:  Similar to beach house rentals, some camp sites get booked quickly and far in advance.  Start your reservation process several months to a year in advance. 

 

Pack Wisely:  While packing, think critically.  Avoid packing your car like you’re heading off to college.  Consider what is essential.  Packing items in plastic tubs is helpful rain or shine.  Lanterns, insect repellant, trash bags, disposable plates and utensils, water, aluminum foil for cooking, a good knife, a cooler, and your sleeping accommodations are key.  Clothing that dries quickly, reasonable footwear, and even that book you’re dying to read are ideal.  While glamping, your “must pack” list may be lighter since there are more amenities.  Remember, you don’t have to bring it all with you.  Some items are best acquired at your destination.

 

Fear of scarcity:  I’m a habitual over-packer.  Quiet that voice of excess and get practical.  Make sure you locate places nearby selling ice, firewood, perishable food, and gas for your car.  Instead of trying to jam pack a cooler with perishable items that may go to waste, plan to prepare some meals easily cooked over an open fire.  There are amazing online resources for easy camping meals.  Put a few versatile ingredients on ice, and enjoy simplifying your meal time. 

 

Don’t forget you are actually camping!:  On the beach inside the state park, the ocean waves crashed, the wind blew, and the sun was brilliant.  Every time I looked up at one teenage boy, his eyes were locked in deep concentration on his phone.  If you have taken the time to strike out on your adventure, don’t forget to be present in your experience.  Breathe the fresh air, stare at the stars in the night sky, go for a walk, enjoy a swim.  Whether you go swanky and glamp, or strip away the creature comforts and camp, soak up your experience.  Maybe when it’s all over you won’t be ambivalent anymore. 

 

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Jasmine Maia is a full time social worker supporting incarcerated adolescents in Philadelphia.  She comes from a long line of Black women interested in accumulating uplifting travel tales and unbelievable misadventures.  

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