I have been camping a couple of times in NY, but never out of the state or for more than two or three days. Our camping equipment is limited to a queen size air mattress, a six foot tent, a small $25 cooler we bought fifteen years ago, Kenny’s trusty cast iron pan and my Berkey water filter. Yet, overall camping our way down to Florida and back in July during Covid was more enjoyable than flying or staying in hotels. Yes, there were a lot of flies and mosquitoes. The worst was in a “primitive” campsite at James Island in Charleston, SC. It also gets really hot mid afternoon to evening, but we managed by staying at the beach or pool most of the day.
Camping tests your ingenuity, resourcefulness, resilience and comfort level. You are limited by what you can pack, so you quickly learn that the creature comforts of home are just luxuries. Binder clips, duct tape and twine are amazing multi taskers that come in handy and challenge your creativity. We managed to hang clothes, seal packages, suspend a six inch diameter batter powered fan from the pull ties and seams of the tent, patch up holes in the floor of the tent, a bag and an inflatable pool bull with these multi taskers.
Lying in your tent at night with the roof off to allow every precious little breeze to enter tests your courage. My little family was totally exposed to the elements, animals, everyone. No walls, locks, not even a nylon roof to give some false sense of separation or safety. What was that sound in the dark? Who are the strangers in adjoining camp sites? Florida is a concealed carry state with a lot of Trump supporters and my car has NY plates… After 8 nights of camping in 4 different sites and even sleeping at a truck stop in our car one night, the worst things that happened is that a raccoon stole our marshmallows, we got a lot of mosquito bites and a large branch fell from a tree at an adjoining camp site. I guess it wasn’t our time. People have been polite, if not friendly, once again proving these cynical New Yorkers wrong.
Camping also provided plenty of challenges for a seven year old boy. He learned to persevere as part of our team to set up and break down camp in the heat, while being attacked by insects. He learned that starting a fire requires constant care and attention. I enjoyed watching his confidence and skill improve as he learned to respect and enjoy the ocean, its waves and its inhabitants. Ricardo also learned that sometimes the best discoveries are made at the end of a long, hot walk when he stumbled across a tortoise, frog or a majestic bird along the way.
Cost for tent camping sites range from $30-60/ night with beach or pool access. Each site varied as far as water and electricity. Only the primitive site had no access to either and the bathroom was far from the site. Fire wood $5-9/ bundle which usually lasted two nights cooking one meal/ day.