Maybe it was a horrific school camp, or that weekend away with a broken tent that spoiled camping for you. But before you donate that old sleeping bag, read how Emilio’s oath to never camp again grew into a love-hate relationship with the great outdoors.

Are you an indoors person or an outdoors person?

The world is divided in many ways. There are introverts and extroverts, cat people and dog people, some who put tomato sauce in the fridge and others who put it in the cupboard. Then there are people who enjoy the outdoors and those who do not, and when it comes to this debate I fall into the latter category.

My idea of a good time includes doing things like, going to a cafe for brunch, dancing at a nightclub, visiting an art gallery, watching a movie at the cinema, perusing the shelves of a bookstore or staying at a luxurious hotel and ordering room service. You know, things I can do inside with minimal interaction with dirt and bugs.

Although I’m the type of person who prefers being inside, I have many friends who love the outdoors and even consider camping as a pleasant activity. Personally, I find the idea of sleeping in a tent cramped in with three or four other people on thin blow up mattresses on a campsite with no showers or toilets and no phone reception as my personal version of hell.


Where does my hatred for camping come from?

I’m not sure why I hate camping so much. Maybe it’s because my parents never took me when I was a kid, so unlike my friends who’d regularly take family camping trips, I missed out on learning to appreciate the great outdoors.

Read more: The Truth About Growing up as an Adventure Baby

But I think the Year 9 survival camp I was forced to go on is what really scarred me. Although I was never a fan of school camps, for most of them we were at least able to sleep in cabins with actual beds and in some cases heaters and air conditioners.

But for the Year 9 camp we were forced to go on a five hour hike to our campsite in Lake Eildon, which had no showers or toilets. We then had to set up tents in the pouring rain and I was forced to spend an entire night with a bunch of smelly rowdy boys who did not understand the basic concepts of personal space or how to use roll on deodorant.


Why did I eventually give in?

Despite my best efforts to avoid camping, I eventually found myself begrudgingly going on a camping trip with some friends a few years later. It was 2016, our first year out of high school and all my friends really wanted to go away together, but since we were all a bit tight for money a hotel or Airbnb wasn’t an option. One of my friends suggested we could save money by camping, which was received well by everyone else, except me. 

I tried to think of some other alternatives to camping, but unfortunately, my bank account didn’t support any of these ideas. In the end I just had to accept that I was going camping. 


This camping thing actually isn’t so bad

Since I didn’t have any camping gear, my friend kindly let me borrow one of his tents and blow up mattresses, which were actually in pretty good condition. He also suggested going to a campsite in the Grampians he used to go to for Boy Scouts. 

The site was near the town centre so we could drop in and refuel on snacks or use a toilet with proper plumbing rather than dig a hole in the ground, which I’ll admit did make me dread the idea of camping a little less. However, I was still mentally preparing to have the worst time ever.


Blackwolf Pro Series Women’s Sleeping Bag Minus 5 – Gear Review, photo by Jacob Boylan, Bee, smile, happy, camping, tent, Tassie


The three hour drive to the Grampians flew by as we spent the whole time singing our hearts out to awful pop songs, and when we arrived the sun was out and the birds were chirping. Since we were camping during school term, there were no little kids running around, which left just the six of us out in the wilderness all on our own. 

We pitched our tents near a glistening blue lake that was in the middle of the site and since it wasn’t pouring rain, setting up my tent was much easier than it had been at Year 9 camp.  

We spent the next two days hiking, exploring the beautiful forestry in the Grampians, taking in the breathtaking views from Pinnacle lookout and walking up to the Venus Baths, where we came across a waterhole big and deep enough to swim in.

After long days of physical activity, we would return to the campsite and light a fire, heat up pre-made dinners, and pass around a cheap bottle of vodka. I wasn’t sure if it was the alcohol, the company, the fresh air or a combination of the three, but camping started to become enjoyable.


Knog Bandicoot Head Torch – Gear Review, Amy Fairall, head torch, camping, fire, stoke, woman

Wet clothes and snapped tent poles

Ever since our trip to the Grampians, my friends have suggested a camping trip almost every year, and each they time they do I’ve made less of an effort to foil their plans. Over the last few years we’ve been to places like Lorne and Gembrook, and every time I’ve had a great time.

Even when things go terribly wrong, camping is still fun. Like when my clothes got absolutely drenched because it rained overnight and I hadn’t set up tent up properly, or the time when, after a day of chasing waterfalls, we returned to our campsite and not only had our tent blown over but the poles had snapped in half, so we fixed them with duct tape. 

While these incidents were extremely inconvenient, looking back, they were actually really funny and made for great memories which is really what camping’s all about.  

Read more: Can You Ever Really Fail an Adventure?

From hating camping to dare I say…missing it

The type of fun you have while camping with friends is unique. The towering trees and rushing bodies of water are not only beautiful sights, but act as barriers from the real life problems that are back in the city. The freedom that you feel at a campsite is unparalleled to anything else, because it feels like you’re in your own little world. 

Even though I’ve changed my stance on camping over the last few years, I’d still consider myself an indoor person. While I love being in the wilderness with my friends, I can only go so long without a comfy bed and hot shower.

However, during Melbourne’s most recent lockdown I found myself yearning to make a great escape to the wilderness and go camping with my friends again. 

The indoor comforts of my home, which I usually love, began to feel like a prison cell, and the social isolation from my friends was taking a toll on my mental health. But now that we’re finally out of lockdown, I think it’s time for my friends and I to check out some new camping spots and start creating new memories.

Read more: Find Your Tribe: On Having ‘Boring’ Friends



Feature photo thanks to @lachlan_gardiner