There are many lessons to be learned from camping if one chooses to pay attention. Some are quite practical, such as having enough propane for the stove, closing windows if there is any possibility of rain, to bringing the right clothing. Others are less obvious, like water usage, the wonders of nature, or human interactions.
Camping is a social equalizer. Surely, there are campers with pup tents and others with giant RV’s that can cost more than the average home. Still, all these people are living side-by-side and have willingly relinquished the ability to choose their neighbors.
We have encountered many people, young and old, who have sold everything and chosen to live full-time traveling without a residence elsewhere. We have met single women that are young and unmarried as well as widowed women that used to camp with their husbands. There have been couples that decided to simplify their lives and travel. The young typically have a job they can do from anywhere, or they stay in one place long enough to earn sufficient money to travel again. The older people are mostly retired, sold their house, bought a trailer or an RV, and just move around as their mood, or the weather dictates.
Many families, as we did, take their children camping to teach them about nature and self-sufficiency. We met one woman that camps frequently with her 9 children and home schools them. Her husband joins them if they camp close enough to his job. The children spend approximately half the day on formal studies and the other half playing, hiking, or exploring nature. Other families are just camping for the weekend to have fun. We first camped with our oldest son Matt when he was three months old in a canvas tent in Canada.
We have met people from all over the United States and the world. At our last campsite on the one side of us there were six young college age men. They were polite and well behaved, but loud. They talked loud, laughed loudly, and played loud music. On the other side our neighbors were two Buddhist monks and a young woman speaking Chinese. They sat by candlelight eating, reading and in silent communion. In the morning they used a bowl of water to clean their faces and hands and poured the remainder of the water on a nearby plant. I could not understand what they were saying to each other but the meaning of their laughter was clear.
In some places we have seen people that appear to be living out of their tents. They sit for most of the day looking lost or bored, with their meager possessions around them. Mostly they do not leave the campground and no one visits them. Yet, all of us greet one another when passing and exchange some small bits of conversation together.
Camping has one big equalizer, the bathrooms. Everyone uses the toilets, sinks and showers. The lesson learned in the bathrooms, or pit toilets, is that we all are alike in so very many ways. An important lesson to remember.