Camping Adventures

Everyone has a crazy camp story where things go as wrong as possible. I’m here to tell you mine and give you one piece of advice that I learned the hard way: don’t camp on the ferns!

Here’s what happened!

My friends and I decided to spend a Fourth of July week in the woods for a festival with people I knew from the co-op I lived in during college. The owner of the property rented out cabins during the year and opened it up for free to well-known campers for one week every Fourth. It was a wonderful time, and I’d gone for seven years in a row, camping out for days and dancing.

This specific year, with my friends in tow, we managed to snag a magnificent site. Still, there was room for only two of the three tents on hard-packed dirt. Now, I’d been camping many more times than my friends had, and knowing it was private property and the owner wouldn’t be upset, I decided to set my tent up on a bed of ferns. At the time, I hadn’t heard of Leave No Trace, and I wasn’t aware of the impact such an action could have on my surroundings. Regardless of my ignorance, Mother Nature decided to give me a lesson I’ll never forget.

The first day or two was great. We got set up and headed down to the communal kitchens to help out. It was a grand time! We helped make a low country boil for the hundreds of people on the property one evening and a mass bacon and egg breakfast the following day. I even got to dance to one of my favorite bands along the lakefront, barefoot and covered in tie-dye.

Day three, though, was a different story. It started to rain. I’m no stranger to camping in the rain, and I knew exactly what to do to ensure our rain covers were in place, and our equipment would stay dry. The gloomy day continued, and around 7 p.m. that night, the sky let loose. What had been a gentle rain all day turned into a torrential downpour. Still, I was not worried! We had a sitting area that was covered, and a little mud never hurt anyone! Plus, since we had helped in the kitchens, we had a great stash of food at our site, squirreled away in waterproof containers.

The one thing I hadn’t accounted for was my tent location. Did you know that ferns tend to grow in areas that flood? That’s right. By 8 p.m., my specific tent site was three inches deep in water. By 9 p.m., it was six inches, and by midnight, there was an entire foot of water in my tent. The few people who walked by tried to help, but there was no way to fix it while it was still raining. Thankfully, I had two other tents I could crash in for the night, and the next day dawned hot and bright so that I could dry all my stuff out. Mother Nature got the final say, and I will never disrespect her flora ever again! Don’t make my mistake. Camp far away from any fern beds.