The great outdoors . . .
I'm kicking myself for not getting out and doing some camping this year. Summer always comes and goes too quickly but that doesn't mean we stop yearning for our need for nature and outdoor adventures. Camping doesn't have an off-season, but for me . . . I'm not adventurous enough to want to pack on the layers and go sleep outside in the cold. So if I don't go now, it'll be next year before I get another chance.
When I was growing up, camping was a part of life. Probably just as much an inexpensive way to entertain us kids as much as my dad's love for the outdoors. When I say love for the outdoors, I mean it in the most literal way! When I was very young, every Friday mom would have the truck packed and ready and we knew we were leaving as soon as dad walked in the door from work.
Lake Waveland Park was a second home to us. My grandparents were from Indy and came with us almost every weekend during summers. They had a pull-behind camper which to my brother and I was “fancy” camping. I believe today they refer to it as “glamping.” You know the people . . . they go to the woods with every amenity from a fully functioning cook stove & refrigerator, along with a television and the piece de resistance . . . indoor plumbing with hot water showers! But dad was set on giving us kids a genuine outdoor experience so we had the luxury of outhouses and cooking our food over an open fire. Mom always brought back-up food just in case, but dad would have us fishing to catch our meal . . . and yes we would get the fun of scaling and cleaning our fish before it went on the old grate he fashioned for a stove top over the fire pit. To this day, I joke I can clean a fish or skin a deer without getting my high heels dirty! Nonetheless, these were memories I cherished and some of the best vacations we ever had! Later, my parents bought several acres of woods outside of Ladoga on a pond. Our tents could now stay up all summer long. We actually had a bathing hole with a freshwater spring! If that's not redneck . . . I don't know what is!
Dad was moving up in the world when he bought an old Streamline camper. Sure, we still had to do our business in an outhouse, always praying something didn't come up and bite you on the bum while you were there . . . but we had electricity and got to sleep indoors so that was definitely a step up from sleeping on the cold, hard ground! The old Streamline was pretty much a shell that had to be remodeled. Dad would work tirelessly on clearing the land every weekend while mom made the old camper a bit more homey. It was our own little oasis from the rest of the world. This was their happy place. Much like the earlier years at Lake Waveland, we would spend our days fishing and swimming and our nights roasting marshmallows and making campfire S’mores and of course, there was always guitars and singing under the stars to end the night.
By the time I had kids of my own, my parents had sold the land outside of Ladoga and decided to move to Raccoon Lake. Finally, they get to live their happy place year round. Just a stone’s throw from the lake, dad would set on the porch of his log cabin, picking his banjo and mom could fish all day. Just as mom had done when I was a kid, on the weekends, I would pack up the minivan every Friday and the kids knew as soon as Al walked in the door from work we were off to the lake! Now I had a small camper of my own and could leave it parked there year round. My kids spent their weekends boating, fishing, swimming and roasting marshmallows and making S’mores over a campfire just as I had done. Even wrapping up the nights singing along with Papaw as he played his guitar.
I'm so grateful to have passed on this tradition and to have shared these experiences with my kids. Fortunately, they had access to indoor plumbing, running water and even the option to sleep inside at Papaw& Mamaw's house (a luxury I was never afforded). Nonetheless, we had great times camping and made memories to last a lifetime.
I find myself missing those years as a kid when it seemed liked summer lasted forever. I wish I had spent a little more time this year taking advantage of the season. The days are going by quickly and there are so few weekends left to go do fun outdoor activities like camping, fishing and hiking. Hopefully, I'll make time to get out and enjoy the clean country air and wide open skies before the summer ends and I hope to pass this tradition and love of the outdoors to my own grandchildren.
“Nature has been for me, for as long as I can remember. A source of solace, inspiration, adventure, and delight; a home, a teacher, a companion.”
Lorraine Anderson.
Until next week . . . stay safe, stay healthy and remember we're all in this together.

Stacey Baschwit works at The Paper of Montgomery County, along with her many other duties, and writes a weekly column about the people, places and events that make up her world.