This weekend I’m taking the kids to Salt Springs State Park for a church group camping weekend. Hopefully we will have good weather, but if it’s hot we can always wallow in the creek.

My family used to go camping every summer, usually in Canada, so we have a lot of camping anecdotes. My favorite is when my brother and I went out to play and brought a pair of baby black bear cubs back to camp. We were very young at the time, as were the cubs. They returned to their mother when she showed up and the family just left. Black bears aren’t typically dangerous but we were still fortunate that this mother didn’t become aggressive.

I’ve never read of anybody camping in the Regency for fun. The Regency characters we read about that might have camped are our Napoleonic War veterans. Here’s a picture from The Wheatley Diary. The caption says “two blankets thrown over a stick was our house.”
At some point they had better tents, but they still weren’t nearly as good as the ones we use today.

Here’s an account of the conditions from “Adventures in the Rifle Brigade” by John Kincaid.

“Encamped on the face of La Rhune, we remained a whole month idle spectators of their (the enemy’s) preparations, and dearly longing for the day that should afford us an opportunity of penetrating into the more hospitable-looking low country beyond them; for the weather had become excessively cold, and our camp stood exposed to the utmost fury of the almost nightly tempest. Oft have I, in the middle of the night, awoke from a sound sleep, and found my tent on the point of disappearing into the air, like a balloon, and, leaving my warm blankets, been obliged to snatch the mallet, and rush out in the midst of a hail-storm, to peg it down. I think that I now see myself looking like one of those gay creatures of the elements who dwell (as Shakespeare has it) among the rainbows!

By way of contributing to the warmth of my tent, I dug a hole inside, which I arranged as a fireplace, carrying the smoke underneath the walls, and building a turf chimney outside. I was not long in proving the experiment, and, finding that it went exceedingly wekk, I was not a little vain of the invention. However, it came on to rain very hard while I was dining at a neighboring tent, and on my return to my own, I found the fire not only extinguished, but a fountain playing from the same place, up to the roof, watering my bed and baggage, and all sides of it, most refreshingly.”

Hopefully we will have a more comfortable time of it this weekend.

Do you enjoy camping? What is your most interesting camping anecdote?


About Elena Greene

Elena Greene grew up reading anything she could lay her hands on, including her mother's Georgette Heyer novels. She also enjoyed writing but decided to pursue a more practical career in software engineering. Fate intervened when she was sent on a three year international assignment to England, where she was inspired to start writing romances set in the Regency. Her books have won the National Readers' Choice Award, the Desert Rose Golden Quill and the Colorado Romance Writers' Award of Excellence. Her Super Regency, LADY DEARING'S MASQUERADE, won RT Book Club's award for Best Regency Romance of 2005 and made the Kindle Top 100 list in 2011. When not writing, Elena enjoys swimming, cooking, meditation, playing the piano, volunteer work and craft projects. She lives in upstate New York with her two daughters and more yarn, wire and beads than she would like to admit.
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11 years ago

Clearly a book I need to add to my TBR pile. I’m not particularly into camping. Back to nature is fun, only so far. That being said, I was in my early 20s when my “uncle and aunt” from London came to visit. The Royal Air Force trained at the local base. He wanted to camp in the Superstition Mountains. It was June. In the Arizona desert. We proved the saying: Only mad dogs and Englishmen go out in the noonday sun. We figured we’d be as smart as possible and hike in late in the day, close to sunset, stay overnight, and hike out in the early morning. Our group included my cousin, a family friend, my younger brother, my uncle, my dad, and myself. My dad and I brought up the rear. Going up, my dad and I heard a rattlesnake, but it was already too dark to see anything. We promised ourselves to keep an eye open for it on the way down, in the morning. One the way down, we kept looking for the spot where we’d heard the rattler. My dad and I were once again bringing up the rear. Several times, we thought we’d hit the right bend, and then realize it wasn’t it, until we did find it. The others had already passed by, and there in the middle of the trail was the rattlesnake. How the other four people managed to pass him without kicking him I will never figure out. Fortunately, he wasn’t in the mood to deal with us. My cousin, how he managed to grow up I will never know, poked the snake with a stick. The creature couldn’t even be bothered to rattle his tail. He simply slithered off the path, into the bushes. God is merciful.

11 years ago

Permanently inscribed in my memory is a camping trip in Maine. My husband and I, our two children ages five and six, and the dog were curled up for the night in our tent when a thunder storm hit.
My daughter threw up on her sleeping bag.
My son threw up on his sleeping bag.
The dog panicked and peed in the tent.
We spent the rest of the night in the car, and I spent the next day at the laundermat while the rest of the family went to a motel.
Even so, I love camping.

Diane Gaston
11 years ago

Judy, what a camping memory!

Elena, I hope you have a wonderful time. I love camping in theory, but in reality I think it makes everything harder – cooking, cleaning, bathing…. but there is nothing like sleeping in the out of doors. That experience I miss!

Amanda McCabe/Laurel McKee

Hope you have a fabulous time, Elena! I used to camp out a bit when I was younger (Diane is right–it’s great sleeping under the stars!) but now that I’m older I like something a little more…comfortable. 🙂 Loved the historical info…

11 years ago

W have camped for many years. As kids, we used what we had, usually a blanket or sheet over a rope. In the Philippines, they wove palm fronds into mats and used them for the floors and walls on bamboo frames. They were quite comfortable. Next, my husband built a tent platform that fit on the roof rack of our 1972 Land Rover. Screw in two upright poles and one cross piece, drape a tarp and you have a tent well off the ground. Of course, climbing up onto the roof of the Rover to get into it was fun. I eventually did get to use a regular tent, a two person pup tent. It had belonged to my husband’s uncle and been stored in the attic for years. After sleeping in it the first (and only) night we were coated with green powder. The tent had dry rotted and the coating had crumbled off. We had regular tents for a sew year then bought a pop-up camper. Our girls were one and two when we got it. I was a convenient way to camp
Our trip up around the Gaspe in Canada was most memorable. On the way there, the brakes on the car overheated when we drove down the hill ti the Bay of Fundy. Luckily my husband was able to downshift to slow us enough to turn the corner at the bottom of the hill. He couldn’t have stopped otherwise. I think we spent that night somewhere in the vicinity (maybe not, it was 1975 and my memory isn’t that good). We had picked out a nice camp ground overlooking the Atlantic to spend a couple days, but got news there was a hurricane moving up the coast. We pushed to make it around the Gaspe and down along the St Lawrence River. We finally found a campground about 1 AM. No one spoke english, there was very little lighting, and we had to put up the camper in driving rain and wind and ankle deep mud. Not an ideal situation, but I appreciated how nice it was to be up off the wet, flooded ground and in something a little bit more sturdy than just a tent. It is really too bad we didn’t get to see much of this area.
Today, I think hotels and resorts are a really nice alternative: )

I would think the “lower classes” camped during the Regency era, many times out of necessity. Thanks for the post and bringing back good memories.

Louisa Cornell
11 years ago

These days my idea of roughing it is the Motel Six !!

When I was younger I did do some camping and I enjoyed it. These days my body is far more interested in comfort than natural living!

I live far enough out in the country I can see the stars at night from my porch. I can hear the crickets, watch bats on their nightly patrols (great mosquito control!) And then I can go back inside and sleep in the comfort of my own bed!

The most interesting camping trip I remember is the night we camped out at Loch Ness in March!! Nearly froze to death. Had all sorts of trouble getting the tent anchored and heard lots of weird noises from the loch.

Elena Greene
11 years ago

Hi! I got back a little while ago and went into a frenzy of unpacking and laying tents out to dry on the front lawn. A few minutes ago I folded up the tent (and it fit back into the bag better than I’ve ever managed before) and got it into the garage literally a few seconds before it started to drizzle. I’m rather happy about htat. 🙂

We had a lovely time. Since there were thunderstorms on Friday night, we set up camp Saturday morning instead. Had great weather and spent a lot of the time in the creek, which was deliciously cool.

Thanks for sharing your camping stories.

Judy, that was a close call with the rattlesnake. Though usually they are not aggressive, still, lucky no one stepped on it!

Pat, I don’t know whether to laugh or cry about your tale. I’ve had a few nights like that, but luckily not while camping.

Diane and Amanda, I am starting to like my comfort a bit more too. My ideal vacation is doing something outdoors and then coming home to a nice meal/wine/hot bath/dry bed. But the kids love camping and it’s definitely manageable for a nice weekend like this one.

Library Pat, that was some adventure! These are the stories that are fun to recount later, though.

Lousia, Loch Ness in March? You are a brave soul. It could have *snowed*! But strange noises from the loch are very cool. 🙂

Jeanne M
11 years ago

You camping story definately brought back memories of going camping with my husband and our two boys in Vermont.

We had a very used tent trailer but after we cranked it up we had to take a piece of wood to hold up the top of the camper (it had what my husband referred to as several “minor” problems). We used to pull it with a 1964 Rambler and after several mishaps finally arrived at the campground, after dark, to rain and got the boys settled for the night.

In the middle of the night we heard an “umf” from the other side of the trailer to find out my husband hadn’t tied that side of the canvas correctly and my younger son had fallen outside (fortunately no injuries).

We thought we had gotten all our misfortunes out of the way early so when the next day we work up to sunshine my husband decided to go fishing. When he was gone much longer than expected I started to get concerned (before cell phones). Finally after several hours of worry he showed up. He hadn’t taken into consideration the wet weather the night before and the car had gotten stuck in the mud. He finally got out when someone driving by (think waving frantically to everyone that passed) and helped him push the car out of said mud.

Okay, we should now have gotten all the bad “things” out of the way. Well not quite because the fifth day the rains not only returned but flash floods warning were posted. Of course our campsite was directly next to a lazy stream (soon to be roaring river) so after about 8 inches of rain we were “advised” to leave!

Needless to say the boys had lots of fun things to tell their friends when they went back to school!

Elena Greene
11 years ago

LOL, Jeanne! I think your story rivals Johnny Kincaid’s.