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21st Century Camping

It’s a good thing I get lots of press releases from PR flaks across America, or I’d never know about some of the most important trends sweeping the nation. I just learned, for example, about something called “Glamping.” This is reputedly the “hottest” trend in the world of travel and blends the words “glamour’ and “camping.”

Now, I’ve never been much of a camper. My recollection of camping is rather old school. This is where you pitch a couple of tents, the larger one for the parental units, the smaller one (s) for the kids. You pray it doesn’t rain because, really, there is nothing worse in this world than a leaky tent and soggy camping. And, of course, I’ve always been especially fond of large insects.

I will admit enjoying breakfasts cooked over a campfire, especially fried eggs and bacon served with coffee spiked with Kahlua or Courvoisier.

Going to the bathroom was always interesting. For the ladies in particular. Usually, it would involve a bit of a hike, sometimes in the middle of the night, to some concrete-brick, campground restroom facility- hoping against hope some serial killer was not lurking in the really, really dark woods.

But camping has changed. The Recreational Vehicle Industry Association recently informed me all about this. RV’s (which, frankly, I never considered real camping) have been considerably upgraded. Some now come with fireplaces, wine refrigerators, Italian tile, washer/dryers, home entertainment centers, leather furniture and great big, huge beds. All on wheels! Plus camp sites now offer Wi-Fi access. Always nice to know that when you really want to get away from it all, Facebook, Twitter, 4-Square and Tumblr are always nearby.

“Being stalked by serial killer on way to bathroom”- is that 140 characters or less?

Yes, camping has modernized beyond recognition. Or as the Recreational Vehicle Industry Association describes it- “Retailers are getting on the glamping bandwagon.” Note: It’s not just a trend- it’s a “bandwagon.”

You can now buy battery-operated insect repellant systems. Air Mattresses with built-in speakers for portable MP3 players. There are rental outlets that offer “butler service” that will “stock a rented RV with anything the customer requests and deliver it to any location, whether it’s a national park or a tailgating party.”

Ok, here’s my question and I ask it honestly. If you can get Italian tile, a fireplace and a king-sized bed in an RV- why go “camping?” Why not just rent a suite at the Ritz-Carlton? If you can get a butler to show up at your campfire with caviar and scallops wrapped in bacon- well, doesn’t that kind of defeat the purpose of “roughing it?”

Am I wrong here? Wasn’t that the whole romantic notion of “camping?” Wasn’t the point of it to sort of pretend you were in George Washington’s army at Valley Forge or that you were a member of Geronimo’s tribe? Davey Crockett…hello? Fur caps…hunting varmin’….howling with the coyotes, peeing in the woods?

No…what we have here is the kind of camping Gilligan’s Island’s Thurston Howell III would have done.

“Oh Luvee, darling- turn off the fireplace and the home entertainment center and bring us a couple of glasses of Riesling ’92 from the wine fridge, would you darling? This outdoors experience is positively draining.”

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