BY JERRY FERRARA
Let’s start with the details.
LOCATION: SEQUOIA NATIONAL PARK
GROUP: 4 MEN, 4 WOMEN (possibly two dogs)
NUMBER OF FIRST TIME CAMPERS: 1 KID FROM BROOKLYN (me)
Yup, that’s me. All alone in a group of campers going on a journey looking for answers. Well, no one has actually said they are looking for answers. Really it’s just me looking for reasons to justify going camping. Now I know there will be a large group of you reading this who will say, “You have never been camping?” and “What kid hasn’t been camping?” Well, here is your answer!
I grew up in Bensonhurst, Brooklyn. For those of you who don’t know about that part of the world (Google it) allow me to educate you. It was a great place to grow up in the 90’s. A close knit neighborhood where everyone knew everyone and your best friends were usually the kids on your street. It was a mini city within the big city and was not yet the trendy place to live. I am no stranger to playing outdoors and certainly no stranger to mischief after night fall. However, these are not the same outdoors. The Brooklyn outdoors are not the great outdoors. Our outdoors are concrete. What I’m basically saying is about 99% of the kids I grew up with have never come close to this camping stuff that my new group speaks of. I have pretty damn good survival skills – I think. I’ve been in some pretty precarious situations where I have not panicked and have known what to do. But Brooklyn’s version of camping as a kid was sneaking out of your house and going to a late night diner where some of the cutest neighborhood girls were hanging out. Or for the more ambitious teenager, trolling the late night streets looking for those fancy fog lights the cool cars had (they were pretty easy to just rip out and would sell for like 50 bucks… so I heard). The dangers of the night were cops, parents, and running into a group that you had beef with that needed settling. All things I grew pretty comfortable with at an early age. All things that could also be settled with some smart and sharp dialogue.
Despite my nostalgia, let’s get into where my mind goes when this trip is proposed.
1- IT’S A 4 HOUR DRIVE
Long drives don’t bother me terribly. As long as the DJ is killing it and maybe you have some good Podcasts to listen to (Bad 4 Business… FU it’s my blog). The only real negative is that distance brings up the old memories of driving to Vegas at 21 with very little money. My move was leaving 20 bucks in the console to ensure just enough gas money to get home. I was always an anxious road trip guy but I can deal with this issue.
2 – THE BUG SITUATION
Now I already succumb to the fact that this blog will make me look like a p*ssy but here we go. Bugs also don’t bother me all that much. Except… TICKS! Yes, that’s right, and allow me to explain. My mom – who is for sure the best mother ever – was very protective of me and my brother. In the few and far between moments we spent in the great outdoors she reacted to the threat of ticks like the extras did in the movie Jaws when the great white is first spotted. I’m talking great panic here. My mom would scan all the kids hourly (If you are reading this mom face your truth) and was driven to do this because of a story she and all of us heard. Someone in our neighborhood who hunted was bit by a tick and got Lyme disease. No one knew his name or exactly where he lived but people swore it HAPPENED. And this poor man was never heard from again. What a great Urban Legend. So Ticks to me are the closest thing to the boogeyman I’ll ever see. But for my new group I am willing to roll the dice.
3 – RUNNING WATER
Now I’m sure there is some port-a-potty (porta potty? pottie?) situation at the camp ground. But I know I am not alone when I say this is just a ﬂat out bummer. I don’t have some crazy story from my childhood to support this theory. It’s just a bummer. Although due to no internet, port-a-potties will revitalize the newspaper reading business even if only for a few days. So I make amends with that one.
4 – NO PHONES, iPADS, OR SOCIAL MEDIA
While I truly am connected to my iPhone, this is one thing I look forward to. This will be a great social experiment to see if we all actually have stuff to say to each other around a campﬁre. Can you imagine if Verizon put up a tower at this campsite? The campﬁre would look like every coffee house that we go to daily. People sitting around texting, tweeting, and pretending to write screen plays. This camping thing is starting to shape up.
5 – THE CAMP GEAR
Normally I enjoy an activity where there is cool gear to purchase. I am the best dressed and most prepared at every Bball and paintball game there is. You want me on your team even if it’s just for my paint grenades or my pro athletic tape roll. But this is a whole different beast. Your gear and supplies may affect your chances of survival (comfort really). I have lots of anxiety when thinking about the right tent, the right shoes, and the right clothes. Even thinking about what food to take needed weeks of thought (I had 5 days notice). So camping to me is won and lost with how you do at the sporting goods store and supermarket. I can see my whole experience being dictated by this. Not trying to eat some weird berries. I did take some initiative but I will reveal the details later. It involved AmazonPrime and a taser. My peace is made through my past gear buying track record.
6 – DA BEARS!
Here is where this kid from Brooklyn doesn’t give a shit about what you all think of me. I know you have all read this and said multiple times, “Dude it’s camping – chill out” or, “Stop being such a puss” but I don’t care. Shit has just gotten real. Bears people. We are talking about bears! Although I have never been camping I have seen the movie “The Great Outdoors” starring John Candy and Dan Akroyd (a must watch). Spoiler alert! The whole family was tormented by a bear. Maybe this is where my fear started. Or maybe it’s just what I keep coming back to over and over again. IT’S A FRIGGIN BEAR! I grew up around some criminals and some all around tough, tough guys. But I learned how to speak their language. However, I do not speak BEAR! So while all my friends tell me, “Bears are used to people on the grounds” and, “As long as you don’t leave the food out” I will not forget the fact that I am going into THEIR HOUSE and I am just a guest.
Forgive me if bear spray doesn’t soothe my feelings. So my Brooklyn state of mind (panic) caused me to stupidly buy a taser on AmazonPrime. Two actually. And no, I am not stupid. I know these dumb little tasers will not do a damn thing against a bear. They probably couldn’t harm a mouse and will only piss him off. I truly would never want to harm a bear or any animal for that matter. But I guess the taser is just something for me to sleep with under my pillow for security. Like Linus with his security blanket. A useless one at that. I have not come to terms with this though at all.
END OF THOUGHTS
To wrap it all up I truly don’t wanna go camping. I feel like the camping window has closed for me. But I do enjoy getting out of my comfort zone and this certainly qualifies. Also the group I am going with is exceptionally fun and I couldn’t deal with all the missed stories if I didn’t go. So I will risk it. I will brave the great tick and bear filled outdoors with hopes of ﬁnding something new that I like. I will enjoy a phone and internet free couple of days. And maybe this old dog from Brooklyn can learn some new tricks. Much more on this to come…
*NOTE: I WILL BE BRINGING A RECORDER AND WILL BE TAPING STUFF FOR THE PODCAST.
HAPPY CAMPING TO ME!
SUBSCRIBE TO THE PODCAST & ENJOY!