I grew up camping with my family. In the summer, we pitched a tent beside the lake and in the fall, during deer season, we stayed in my grandparents’ camper. My brother and I roasted hotdogs and marshmallows over the campfire and played nearby. Sometimes it was just our parents and grandparents and other times cousins came too. Looking back, those are some of my happiest family memories.
More than 20 years later, Houston and I took our four children primitive camping. We made s’mores around the campfire, read chapter books by flashlight and explored the area around our tent. One of my sweetest memories is sharing a sleeping bag with our daughter, Emilie, who was two years old at the time. Waking up to her cute face, eyelashes fanned over chubby baby cheeks, is something I’ll never forget.
There was another trip though, where we hiked in for a couple of miles, with all of our gear on our backs, miniature schnauzer in tow. Our kids were six, eight, 10 and 12 at the time. We did our best to find the most level ground for our tent and located the nearest toilet - a hidden spot behind a big tree. That night, everyone slept soundly...everyone but me and our dog, Beethoven. He kept coming over to me, nails scratching the tent floor, looking like he had a lot of questions. “Why are we here”? “What are those weird noises”? And if it wasn’t Beethoven keeping me awake, it was the ever present tree root or rock poking me in the back.
Fast forward another 20 years and my husband and I have started a glamping business on our property. In case you aren’t familiar with the term, it stands for glamorous camping. It’s for people who love the outdoors, but equally love creature comforts like a real bed, temperature control and an indoor bathroom. I can relate. Working outside on our farm, I’ve developed an appreciation for the outdoors that I never had, but I want a comfortable place to sleep when the sun goes down. There’s a whole industry, with successful companies like Hipcamp, Tentrr and Glamping Hub, that has been created to provide glamping experiences for people like me.
Often those who choose glamping over traditional camping don’t want to pitch their own tent or dig a hole to go to the bathroom. Maybe they don’t have camping gear or they’d like to test the waters before spending a boatload of cash on the necessary equipment. Glamping can be anything from a Walmart tent with an air mattress and linens to a quaint cabin in the woods. And the bathroom situation consists of either an outhouse, an indoor composting toilet or a regular bathroom.
Many of our guests grew up camping and want to introduce it to their friends or family members, who have never camped. It’s a way to ease them into the idea. Not everyone wants to sleep in a sleeping bag on the ground, but give them a memory foam mattress and plush bedding, inside a sturdy tent, and maybe they’re game. Waking up and making French press coffee or hot tea seems almost civilized. Then, unzipping the front flap, the guest sits on the tent’s deck, hands wrapped around the steaming mug, and watches the fog lift off of fields and the nearby woods. Then it hits them: It’s possible to commune with nature, even if you don’t sleep on the ground.
Sherry Asbury Clark is Co-Founder of Purdon Groves and a freelance writer. Her column, Finding Myself in a Small Town, appears each week in the Corsicana Daily Sun. You may reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information on Purdon Groves, a farm, table, venue and retreat property, check out purdongroves.com or visit their Instagram or Facebook pages.