One of the great appeals of camping is getting away from crazy pace of society to a beautiful secluded oasis of solitude. The entrapments of our everyday lives are left behind and we are gloriously left to spend time together in this tranquil environment. If you believe this to be true you haven’t been camping in a State Park.
My illusion of peace, tranquility and serenity while camping met a nightmare of a defeat in the early years of my marriage. Michelle and I decided to join our friends the Petermans for a weekend camping trip in the North Carolina Mountains. When we arrived at our campground we were excited to realize that we were one of the only campers there. We set up our tents and went into town to get some supplies. When we returned some others campers set up camp next to ours. We thought this was strange being that the whole campground was full of empty lots. We enjoyed great conversation and a campfire. Our neighbors got a late start but soon they had a campfire roaring as well. We had an early morning of hiking so we decided to go to bed around 11:00. Our neighbors seemed to be having a great time but we assumed that out of common courtesy they would quite down around 12:00. They recognized that we had gone to sleep and we assumed they would show some respect. As the night pushed into early morning so did our neighbors. The music was turned up to an absurd level and the beer was flowing almost as fast as my anger. My friend Mark asked our neighbors two or three times to keep it down, but after a few minutes of effort to silence their drunken enthusiasm the partying raged on. It was 4:00 AM when they finally stopped. I was angry and revenge would belong to me. Jesus himself would have silenced these neighbors. At 6:00 AM I woke up to a mission. It was time for me and my friends to party. I started by singing very badly (which takes no effort on my part) at the top of my lungs and then I began to honk the horn. I shouted everything and anything I could to my embarrassed friends. I then cranked the stereo and had an early morning dance party. We continued on for 45 minutes of obnoxious revenge.
Like a medieval plague, obnoxious neighbors seem to be the Unwin family curse. I’m guessing after many years of camping I’m sure we tipped the annoying meter several times and now camping karma is camping next door. The three camping trips this summer have all had at least one night of neighbors gone wild. These days I resist the temptation for revenge and let sleep claim it’s inevitable prey. I used to lie and tell people that sleep is over rated. I’m a light sleeper and on nights such as this I wish I could sleep through the party.
One of the things that I value about camping is that you have a chance to rub up against humanity. You hear the heartbeat of life. Dads singing with their kids. Moms loosening their parental grip and letting their kids embrace the full extent of their child potential. You hear babies crying in rages of protest and you hear tired parents doing their best to reclaim the silence. You hear laughter, lots and lots of laughter. Camping may not offer the most quiet night’s sleep, however it helps you hear the joy of life. Who knows if perhaps you are camping next to me and decide to share your joy for life into the early morning maybe I will decide to return the favor.