Five things I have learnt from camping : #3 – Plan – or go without!

One of the things that camping teaches you, is that you have to plan ahead. If you are only going for a weekend, it is easy enough to run through your menu and make sure you take the tinfoil to wrap your potatoes in, or a grater for the cheese. Yet sometimes you still manage to leave some crucial item at home – the tin opener, the matches, the corkscrew.

If you go for a longer period, and plan to replenish supplies halfway through the trip, you never know what you will be able to buy in small towns and remote areas, so you learn to keep the basics in a “camping” box, or have a master list that you use when packing. Even then you sometimes manage to omit that one crucial thing.

I am famous for once – in winter! – leaving the sleeping bags behind. In my defense, I was distracted by a malfunctioning gate motor and an impromptu breakfast for a group of 8 while we resolved the gate, but the tension during that trip when I realised and confessed what have happened! Luckily, our destination was Bakgatla, in Pilanesberg, and there was a mall remarkably close. I can however attest to the fact that -1 degree Celsius is vastly different in down sleeping bags, than when you are sleeping under three grey blankets from Pep Stores!

Even worse is when you cannot throw yourself on the kindness of your fellow campers and borrow a corkscrew / tinfoil / matches, things the average camper will have. We once took everything to make real coffee – the beans, the grinder, the flask – and left the plunger behind. That is when you make a plan or do without until you can get to a place where you can replace the missing piece of equipment.

The same goes for life – you plan ahead, do your best to remember and acknowledge every possible circumstance, and plan for all contingencies. Yet life still manage to suddenly throw you a curved ball – the bride at the bridal venue deep in the Drakensberg, who had no water on her wedding day (true story!) or the birdwatcher who drop and break his binoculars on the first day of the birding trip in a remote area.

Then there is nothing left to do but be resourceful – the bride’s father managed to go and buy two five-liter containers of water, so she could at least wash her body and be able to wet her hair for styling. You can also be resourceful with what you HAVE packed – did you know that a bundled-up piece of tinfoil makes a passable bath plug? And that you can repair an amazing number of mechanical things with cable ties and duct tape? And that uncooked spaghetti makes a good stick to roast marshmallows on?

Sometimes, you are reliant on the amazing kindness of strangers – like the family who assisted us as we had a flat wheel on our caravan, as we drove into the camp site at sundown after a hard and stressful day of driving over truly terrible roads. They very kindly just took over, replacing the wheel and helping us set up camp, when they saw that the only thing we were capable of was look at each other in despair. I am STILL grateful to them, and to know that I live in a world where strangers will come to your aid when you need it most.

I hope that you find the same in your life.

#fivethings #camping #coach-ignite #kindnessofstrangers

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