Camping with Your Spouse

February 14, 2012

Valentine Heart

On this Valentine’s Day, I wanted to write an article discussing the enjoyment and benefits I get from hiking with my wife, and that others can get when sharing the outdoors with their significant others.

This summer the Ms. and I did a good bit of camping together on a couple of road trips and several weekend outings in the mountains. One of the things I started thinking about is the pleasures I get camping with my wife. While I do enjoy going camping with the guys on occasion, camping with one’s spouse seems to bring certain unique benefits that one doesn’t get from camping with your pals. As such, I thought I would make a list of some of these unique benefits, and see what you guys thought might be some benefits I missed.

1. Shared Chores- Anytime I go camping, the people I camp with split up some of the more common chores, you get the firewood, I’ll set up the fire pit, you get the food ready, I’ll set up the tent. Chore allocation is common, I believe, for all campers.

With that said, there are certain chores that you simply wouldn’t want to ask anyone other than your spouse to do, perhaps more so if you’re a guy. I enjoy setting up a campfire, and there just seems to be something that is simply primal about starting a fire for warmth and cooking. Now, this primal act tends to be a desire for all guys I camp with, and so most of the time, we have three to four guys telling each one the best way to find kindling, set up the logs, and start the fire.

When camping with my wife, she has little to no interest in starting the fire. I’m proud to say she can and does, and I’ve seen her successfully start fires in near downpours, but while I’m starting the fire, she often turns to arranging the interiors of the tent, including laying out sleeping pads, bags and pillows. This is always a nice treat, as my style would be to pull the bag out around midnight when I go to sleep, and try to arrange it all in the dark and cold.

Similarly, we split packing responsibilities for going camping, and when leaving the camp site. She can pack up the sleeping bags while I gladly take any garbage out, and do general cleanup around the camp site.

2. Cheap Mini-vacation – Where I work, I often hear some of my co-workers complain that they never get to go anywhere because they can’t afford it. I find that discussing my weekend camping trips often brings on some a little jealous to the workplace. Camping with my spouse allows us both to be able to get away into nature a lot more often than we would if we had to pay for expensive hotels, and is often much more relaxing than that type of vacation. While sleeping on the ground may not be for everybody, I think most have never tried it, and convincing one’s spouse to give it a try may be worth a shot.

3.Sex– Not sure what else needs to be said here, but being in the great outdoors can add some spice and romance to the love life. Just make sure you’re in a closed tent, and in a private location. Not a bad added benefit to camping with the spouse, but you don’t want to disturb any neighbors or cause them to have awkward conversations with their children.

4. Better meals- When not backpacking, I find that my wife and I often eat better meals when camping than I do when camping with friends. The problem, I believe arises in the additional planning that is required to cook more complex meals. Camping with other guys, no one wants to plan these meals. Most of the time we settle for some basic dogs on a stick, marshmallows, stew, and/or some breakfast food. This prevents the possibility of a meal failure in the woods.

With my wife, we can plan out a menu while in the grocery store together, and if it is a complete failure, we can always drive to the nearest town for some hotdogs and buns.

5. Conversation or Not – Another pleasure I get from camping I often find is the quiet and solitude of the woods. When camping with friends, there is often some expectation of maintaining a conversation. While I love being able to have real conversations around a campfire, and have found that some of my most in depth discussions with my buddies have occurred when there’s no TV, and only a fire to distract, I believe that camping with friends can cause one to miss out on the silence.

With a spouse, the expectations of conversations are different. A couple that has been together long enough usually doesn’t feel the need to be constantly speaking to each other. Conversation is comfortable, but silence is too. Camping with a spouse brings the unique qualities of wonderful fireside chats, while simultaneously providing the opportunity to simply listen to nature’s sounds and silence.

6. Shared Memories of a Lifetime – Many of the friends I camp with live a good distance away, and we use camping to reconnect. As such, camping trips provide a great time to enjoy and embrace the present and some time in nature.

With a spouse, those same benefits exist, but certain memories can be shared and remembered for years down the road. I can’t remember everytime I’ve been camping, or all the places I’ve been, but I do remember every trip I have taken with my wife. The experiences we have we get to talk about often, and relate other life experiences to them. A little over a year ago we had our first close encounter with a black bear while hiking. We were accidentally got only a few feet away from her when we  spooked her.

This intense moment is one we retell at get-togethers  and a unique memory we share together.

7. Leave When You Want – We’ve all been camping on one of those weekends when the weather just sucked all of the joy out of camping. When camping with pals, I generally will tough it out. With the wife, we’ve been known to camp in some bad weather, but if the weather lasts more than a night or so, I find I am much more willing to ask her if she wants to leave. Camping with a spouse avoids the always awkward decision-making/compromising process of trying to take charge while avoiding being bossy. That dialogue is simply not necessary in a relationship.

8.Split the load – Finally, when backpacking, I have found that it is much easier to split our loads of equipment. We are much more willing to share equipment with each other and carry each others stuff than we would be if hiking with others. I would never ask for someone to carry any of my stuff, but my wife and I can split the weight more evenly (meaning I can volunteer to carry more without her having to feel bad for asking).

What do you all think? Are there any other benefits to camping with a spouse over other friends. Anyone see any benefits in the opposite, or camping alone?

HAPPY VALENTINE’S DAY EVERYONE, and don’t forget to tell your significant others how much they mean.


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