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Life before glamping was full of useful lessons

Anyone who camps these days has probably heard the term glamping. As far as I can ascertain, it refers to glamourous camping, which is frankly an oxymoron. Apparently though, glampers take lamps and carpets and all manner of cushions and electronics and they often sleep in yurts and other shelters that appear to be better than my first apartment.

Things were different when I was a kid. Back then, we just had cramping.

Cramping will fondly be remembered by any person 55 years and older. It is also the main reason people 55 years and older now prefer cottages. For those unaware of this camping craze, it was essentially the act of getting six or more kids into a two-person pup tent. I think the concept was founded on the belief that if there were six of you, your odds of escaping an axe murderer, werewolf or carnivorous beast were greatly improved.

Regardless, cramping was an adventure in itself.

As soon as the sun started to go down, you had to give a bit of thought to where you wanted to be positioned in the tent – by the doors, or in the middle.

If you were by one of the doors you would have to endure being trampled and stepped on every time someone had to answer nature’s call – which, given the amount of soft drinks and nervous bladders we brought along, was a lot. If you were at the door, you quickly learned what it was like to try to sleep on a parade route.

The advantage to being beside the door was a) you could answer nature’s call quickly and b) you could stick your nose up against the screen so you could breathe fresh air instead of the assorted toxins produced by six grimy kids who had spent the day eating junk food.

The kids in the middle were generally the ones who had more confidence in their bladders. On occasion, however, this was not the case but was offset by their irrational fear of being eaten by bears or wolves – which was not something that happened a lot in most suburban backyards.

Having a kid with a weak bladder in the middle of the tent was, of course, a water bomb waiting to happen. For just one howl or inexplicable grunt outside the tent would be all that was needed for them to try to convince the rest of us in the morning that dew can fall inside a tent too, and furthermore, inside a sleeping bag and a person’s shorts.

Sometimes that wouldn’t happen though and all the occupants of the tent would wake up dry but also extremely irritated and tired from being kept up by the heat, smell and noise generated by six tightly confined bodies.

By the way, watching six or more kids emerge from a two-person pup tent was like watching a dozen clowns emerge from a tiny clown car – but perhaps even sadder.

The two worst things that could happen on a cramping weekend was steady pouring rain and flatulence. So, it should come as no surprise that the worst two things always happened. This is why people of my generation understand that life is not always fair.

Cramping had its good points too, however. Mostly, it taught us the value of a three-person tent.

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