Seeking your stories about the delicious misery of American camping

Friends, campers, and camping friends: I need your help and your contributions! Right now I am working on a spin-off feature story about the “delicious misery of camping,” the reason why we keep on camping even when things go wrong out there for us. In fact, sometimes the homeopathic doses of awfulness can add intrigue to the camping trip and an additional incentive (at least we can brag about or laugh about the trips to other people later on.) With this in mind, I am hoping you can send me your stories about camping trips gone wrong — bears trashing your tent to get at a small snack-sized candy bar, your hot dogs floating away in an unseasonable storm, etc. These stories don’t have to be recent. Divertingly¬†traumatic childhood campout stories are perfectly fine. Creature incursions, bear-bag fails and spoiled food are most welcome. It would be great if you could talk a little bit about your experience with the chaos of camping, and how that chaos contributes to your love (or hatred, or some combination of love and hatred) of recreational camping. Feel free to post these stories of woe right here or, if you wish, send them straight to I am working on a freelance piece that — I hope — will closely coincide with the paperback release of Under The Stars in June. I’ve already collected quite a few great stories of hilariously horrible camping trips while out on the road for my book. Right now, I’m just trying to add a few more gems to my collection, in the hopes that I can quote from some of the best ones in this freelance piece. ¬†Thanks, and good camping to you all.


  1. Susan Packwood

    It was the middle of July, tent camping in our beloved Davis Mountains in The high desert of West Texas. We had seen javelinas, mule deer, skunks before bed. The fellow next to us had his cooler eaten by a herd of javelinas. This is the darkest sky in the United States so about 2:30 it was really dark. My 50 year old bladder just could not wait!
    We were about 100 yards from the bathroom…..with wild javelinas possible! My husband refused to go with me and suggested I squat outside the tent. Are you kidding? Squat with a javelina possible?
    I actually knew they wouldn’t hurt me but didn’t want to be startled by seeing them. So instead I decided to walk to the bathroom flashlight leading me looking at the ground in front of me as I walked. Take a deep breath and just do it! I gotta go!
    So as I walked , I noticed the delicious stillness around me, the cool night air, the quiet. So I timidly looked up. There before me was the most glorious sky full of stars I had ever seen. No javelinas! Just black sky covered with stars. I stopped and took it in.
    I made it to the bathroom where a skunk stood in the doorway…….I jus smiled and waited till he sauntered off. I am a therapist in Houston, where we get excited when we see one star.
    I used this story as a metaphor for my clients at the power and silliness of fear. It was one of the most beautiful nights of my life.

  2. Dan White Post author

    Thank you for this story, Susan Packwood!

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