Tent camping is my favorite sport. My family and I spent many days and nights tent camping and we always used the primitive sites.
We enjoyed meeting new people and exchanging ideas on camping.
I have also been backpack camping several times. I started while living in Kansas City in the mid-70s. That’s when I started deer hunting. I had to drive sixty miles to a hunting area and had no tent at that time.
I backpacked in, cleared a spot, laid down a sheet of plastic and slept on the ground. More than once I woke up with two to four inches of snow on top me.
After that I purchased a nylon pop tent. Boy was that better!
One year my wife, two sons (ages 11 and 13 at the time), father, mother, brother, and myself backpacked in the Arapaho National Forest in Colorado. We spent three days up in the mountain and back. The view and wildlife was great.
I no longer go backpack camping. I leave that to others. After our sons left home we moved back to the Neosho area. I still wanted to camp, but my wife couldn’t sleep on the cold, hard ground anymore.
I thought I would have to go by myself, which I did for some time. Then I met Charlie, a neighbor and now best friend, who also enjoyed camping.
We planned a trip and went to Mark Twain National Forest. We found a spot we liked, cleared it and set up camp. We both liked the way each other camped, and we have been camping twice a year for about 15 years now.
Most of the time we camp in the spring and fall, because summer is just too hot.
In dry times it is best to check at the Forest headquarters to see if fires are a problem. Most of the time we cooked dutch oven and over fires; when not allowed, we used a camp stove.
We spent our time hiking. It was rugged country but very beautiful. There are so many stories I could tell from these trips.
For instance, if you needed rain, just ask us to go camping. Seventy percent of our trips had either rain or storms. We became used to it and were well-prepared.
As we headed for one area, we came across someone who warned us about recent sitings of black bears in that area. We didn’t care, we would have loved to see a bear, but no luck.
Charlie and I have not stopped yet. We talk about that when we get to where we can’t get around very well, we will get us a couple of 4×4 wheelchairs and have the OATS bus take us to our campsite.
People camp in so many different ways nowadays, but no matter how you prefer to camp, don’t quit.
Enjoy the outdoors and all it has to offer.
By Tom Boydston
(Tom Boydston lives in Neosho, Mo., and can be reached by phone or text at 417-439-6048.)