Monday, 29 July 2013

Camping Trips

My last posting, about camping trips as a metaphor for life, has got me thinking about my very first camping trip, which took place many, many years ago, when I was a boy away at summer camp.  During that month away, our bunk, or perhaps it was two bunks combined, headed out on a trip into the woods, packing tents, and what not.

There was food and perhaps water, or at least special tablets to put into dirty water that would supposedly make it clean and drinkable (I remain dubious, but I am alive to tell the tale, so perhaps it wasn’t nonsense).

Anyway, just our luck, it rained.  We put up the tents.  As I recall there were at least two: one for the counsellors and then another for us campers.  The more aggressive among us grabbed the prime spots inside the tent, leaving three of us less aggressive types to make do with the tent “porch”: an extension of the tent with a roof but no sides.

If camping trips are a metaphor for life, then I suppose life must be a hierarchical affair where those in authority get a private tent for themselves and what’s left is distributed according to who is the most powerful.  A combination of Hobbes and medieval feudalism, one might say.

We three oppressed types on the tent porch did get our revenge, however.  We were not particularly wet, since there was no wind and the rain did not come at us sideways.  But those inside the tent decided to perform an experiment.  This is not at all the Aristotelian approach; they should have just read books and thought about the logic, but no, one of them had heard that if you touched the top of a tent during the rain, the rain would start to come in.

We porch-dwellers heard this theory discussed and then heard a shriek from inside.  Someone had carried out the experiment – as foolishly as Ben Franklin testing the nature of lightning by standing outside with a kite, and with worse results.  The bullies in the tent got soaked; we meek and mild ones survived relatively dry.

Perhaps this means that the meek will inherit the earth, or at least a dry spot while camping.

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