Night At The Museum: Why I Hate Camping

I figured out something important about myself over the weekend. Or, more accurately, I figured it out again:  I’m not a camper.

This realization came to me whilst attending a sleepover at the British Museum on Saturday night with my 8 year-old son. He’s a “young friend” at the museum and as with all things, membership has its privileges. In this case, he was invited to attend an evening of workshops surrounding the current Montezuma exhibit, followed by a sleep-over and early morning access to the exhibit.

What’s not to love, right?

Well, a lot, actually. At least if you’re me.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m in awe of the quantity and quality of things that British museums – especially this one – do in the way of inspiring and educating children about art and history. It’s one of the things I love most about living over here. By way of example, in a mere four hours on Saturday night we decoded Mayan glyphs, made a Mexican headdress, chanted to some Aztec Gods and listened to a Day of the Dead Story teller. In short: brilliant.

But then there was the actual sleepover. And here I was less charmed. As I lay there around 2 a.m., wide awake on a cold, stone floor amid the Assyrian statuary…in a sleeping bag (graciously loaned by a neighbor)…with my 8 year-old son lying next to me, grinding his teeth…in a room full of snoring strangers….under the watchful eye of “A Winged Bull For Sennacherib’s Palace” I thought:  Right. This is why I hated camping all those years.

I know. I know. It’s not real wilderness-style camping. But it bears enough similarity to warrant the comparison. To wit:

*relative deprivation from creature comforts (e.g. bed, heating–those statues are cold!, shower, normal food)

*living in groups and listening to/participating in other people’s personal rituals (e.g. sleep, eating, teeth-brushing)

*that curious modern creation that is the sleeping bag

It probably would have helped if I’d had an air mattress instead of the yoga mat I brought to add an extra layer of comfort. (Not.)

It probably also would have helped if I were ten years younger and didn’t yet know the aches and pains of that pesky piriformis muscle that’s been acting up so much lately.

And – to be honest – it probably also would have helped if I were just a different person. I don’t know. Someone who really excelled at Girl Scouts, perhaps. Or didn’t find it really strange to brush my teeth in front of 20 other people.

But I’m not. And much as I love my son, I don’t think I’ll be repeating that exercise anytime soon.

But I’m happy to have learned all of this – again – about myself. Because at the end of the day, adulthood is about realizing who you are and what you enjoy in life.

I had the exact same realization the other day when looking at a friend’s vacation pictures on her computer. As I watched slide show after slide show of her recent family holidays, I realized that in every single one, she and her husband were engaged in some sort of “extreme sport” – whether it was kayaking or mountain climbing or windsurfing.

Whereas when my husband and I take a holiday,we tend to go to a lot of museums (in the daytime!), frequent cafés and catch up on The New Yorker.

Which is, I suppose, a long way of saying “to each his (or her) own.”

It’s also a long way of saying that the next time I spend a Night at The Museum, it will be on film.

Image: Night at the Museum by Frangipani via Flickr under a Creative Commons License.

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  • Reply Cathy257

    November 23, 2009, 4:15 pm

    Sounds just like me. Good to know I’m not the only one *LOL*

  • Reply Cheryl

    November 23, 2009, 5:30 pm

    I loathe camping – I just don’t see the attraction at all – so glad to hear I’m not alone. What I really hate is not having a proper bathroom – at least you didn’t have to suffer answering nature’s call outside in the freezing cold wondering if some large gruesome beast was going to attack you when you were at your most vulnerable! Or maybe the museum folks denied access to the bathroom in order to make the “camping” experience more real!

  • Reply LPC

    November 23, 2009, 7:17 pm

    Do you realize that by introducing me to piriformis syndrome you have just given a name to something I have suffered from for 10 years? Started when I started sitting a lot at my job. And never had a name. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Since now I know what to stretch.

  • Reply class factotum

    November 24, 2009, 1:20 am

    Isn’t the reason you pay for this fancy membership so that someone else will watch your kid while he spends the night at the museum and you and your husband get a romantic night at home?

    • Reply delialloyd

      November 24, 2009, 11:21 am

      Ha! I did actually think about hiring a sitter to take him and then a. felt a lot of bad mom guilt and b. realized that would be *really* expensive. (all kids need an adult supervisor). Very funny!

  • Reply daryl boylan

    November 24, 2009, 4:32 am

    Oh, dear. And then some. Your non-affinity for camping is clearly genetic.

  • Reply Maria del Mar Paredes

    November 24, 2009, 1:10 pm

    I don’t like camping either, at least at Camping Sites (yes out the countryside), but I must admit it’s the best way of traveling if you want to be independent as you don’t need to book previously. You just get the city/town where you want to go and install your tent. You can change your mind and your journey whenever you want to, improvise, and it’s the only way to visit and to know deeply most of the countries and above a kind of contries. For instance last Summer my sister Rocio (remember her?) and her husband went to Southafrica and they “had” to camping in order to watch the five important animals (i.e.: elephant, lion, etc). Is there any other way of doing?. I don’t think so. Also if you want to get a Mountain Summit: there’s no way but camping. Unless you like this type of accomodation, you will miss those amazing experiences.

    And there’s another “advantage”: you meet local people in Camping Sites and get another view of the country talking and chatting with them. And the kids enjoy so much doing camping: that’s a thing they will never forget: sure.

    And I’m telling I don’t like camping but I’d rather sleeping in MY sleeping bag over MY air mattress than sleeping in a hotel bed where I don’t how or if the room was cleaned, or if the sheets were changed…

    About bathrooms, yes, that’s the worse thing but you get used to share those private times (teeth-hands-faces-washing, showers, etc. with other people) and I only use camping sites for sleeping and not for living in.

    I only go for camping above Pyrenees: never, never in Spain or Portugal, and we change from Camping Sites to Hotels or to Farms along the planned journey.

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