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Thank goodness camping isn’t a sport

For my birthday last week, my brother gave me a few magazines. That’s a great gift for a full-time RV’er, since magazines are fun and consumable. I like to see what other magazines are doing, for professional reasons, and yet I rarely go to the bookstore and buy them myself.

One of them was a wakeboarding enthusiast magazine. It was the sort of typical pumped-up “extreme sports” angle that you see on all kinds of sports, with macho and jargon-filled ads, articles about pushing oneself “to the limit”, and plenty of photos of buff young guys doing amazing tricks.

Now, I like to see the photos of guys showing the possibilities of wakeboarding. It’s inspirational in a way, even though I know I’ll probably never practice enough to do the things they do. But I was irritated by intimations by the editors that people who don’t do the sport they way they think it should be done, aren’t really wakeboard riders, but rather poseurs. They even went as far as to claim that a certain trick isn’t up to their standards, and therefore people shouldn’t do it. And of course there are plenty of hints that if you don’t have the expensive equipment (board, boat, etc) you’re not a legitimate practitioner of the sport and probably should just stay home.

That sort of attitude is something I work to keep out of Airstream Life. We don’t run articles with titles like “Monster Tow Vehicles — Whose Is the Baddest?” and “Why Triple Axles Rule the Roads!” and “Extreme Marshmallow Roasts!” and “Camping the Proper Way.” It’s not my business to tell people that their camping style or equipment doesn’t meet some arbitrary standard. Unless you’re using your RV as a meth lab, my rule is that if you’re having fun, you must be doing something right.

Of course, Airstream Life doesn’t feature a lot of photos of buff 20-something guys with their shirts off, busy making a campfire or hitching up their trailer. (Perhaps we should, we might sell more copies on the newsstand.) RV’ing is not the exclusive domain of retirees anymore, but the reality is that a lot of us guys don’t have the 6-pack abs anymore (if we ever did!) and we tend to keep our shirts on while we’re camping.

Thankfully RV’ing isn’t likely to become an “extreme sport”. It’s more of an equal-opportunity recreation, friendly to the young & old, fit and not-so-fit alike. It gives us Baby Boomers something to do when the knees don’t allow us to go skiing anymore.

And therein lies the beauty of it. You can do it in any way that works for you, without fear of crossing some rules ordained by a puffed-up National Association or popular magazine with delusions of majesty. I have written about our form of travel and adventure for a long time, but I’ll be the first to acknowledge that what works for us may have no relevance at all to how you’ll do it. That’s fine. All I want to do is give you ideas and inspiration. If your style is totally different from ours, that won’t be any impediment to us becoming friends when we meet on the road.

There are few rules to traveling or camping in an RV, and the arbiters of etiquette are relatively moderate. Just have drive safely, and have a nice time. Your experience will not be mine, your tow vehicle and RV probably aren’t the same as mine, but that doesn’t matter in the slightest. I’ll share the road, some tips, and perhaps a nice campground with you all the same.

4 Responses to “Thank goodness camping isn’t a sport”

  1. Brad Arrowood Says:

    I guess this means you won’t be interested in my article “Extreme Black Tank Dumping: Thunder on the Prairie”. The Swedish Bikini Team and I “take care of business” followed by an exchange of high-fives.

  2. leigh Says:

    happy birthday Rich!

  3. Terry Says:

    Happy B’day, Rich!
    I don’t know, extreme marshmallow roasting competitions sound delicious!
    Maybe ice cream eating challenges would be fun, too. On second thought, thinking “brain freeze”, maybe not…No pain, no brain…

  4. Rob Super Says:

    That would make a great “Airstream Life” editorial–too bad it’s a bit long for a manifesto!