Campsites: from then to now

What started as a ‘build your own’ when travelling has become something else. A Short History of the Campsite describes how culture and campsite and technology have kept pace. The story includes pictures!

“There is a satisfying immediacy about the prospect of establishing an encampment for the night — clearing the site, erecting the tent, chopping wood, building a fire and cooking over the live flame — that in turn suggests a meaningful connection to landscape, place and the rugged life of backwoods adventurers. In essence camping is an act of faith and survival, a way to buttress a modest, isolated human settlement against the forces of nature.”

“This summer millions of Americans will take to the road in search of this powerful experience of nature. And that parcel of land upon which most will elect to drive their car, set up their tent, park their trailer or RV is the campsite — which is thus not only an imagined ideal but also the fundamental unit of management of the modern campground.”

“Modern campsites embody a peculiar contradiction: They are defined and serviced by an increasingly sophisticated range of utilities and conveniences, and yet marketed to perpetuate the cherished American ideal of the backwoods camp.”

As an example, Sean describes his method for Finding overnight spots.

“I can probably start by saying we detest campgrounds. If we are in the forest, we’d rather be by ourselves in a clearing off a little-used dirt road than in a well-maintained Forest Service campground. If we are in a populated area, we’d rather be at Walmart, Cabela’s, or even parallel-parked on the street than in an RV park. Part of this preference is that we are cheap”

A campsite can be a way stop or it can be a destination or it can be a base for further adventure. It is your choice.

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