History of Camping: Who Invented Camping?
Modern-day outdoor camping: your favorite back-to-nature pastime. It is indeed, your ultimate escape, for days or weeks, after getting bored running your errands in the urban jungle.
Nothing reinvigorates your mind and inspires calming serenity that your soul so craves for more than spending a couple of days in the wilderness. The whole experience, from cozying around a campfire, breathing the fresh breeze, and sleeping under the stars to browbeating in the sound of angry bears and wolves, is out of this world!
Yet, away from the hustle and bustle of city life, this ultimate ‘feel good’ escape seemingly is a religion. It is a tradition that attracts over 42 million Americans every summer, all eager to get immersed in this epic activity.
Today, owning a camp tent, a trailer and a few basic camping gear, is fabulous. Campgrounds are a hot favorite with family-themed sites gaining fame and acceptance. Still, glamping in yurts and treehouses has almost replaced the same old park models.
Books about Camping: William H.H. Murray
Camping is a tradition that started over a century ago when it was exclusive to rough, nature-loving enthusiasts. Back then, the silence of the woods, marveling at trickling waterfalls or even sleeping in the cold and rain with bears roaming close by, wasn’t for everyone.
It was a novelty until 1869 when William Henry Harrison Murray, one of the pioneers in Outdoor Movement, did a piece on life in the camp titled, Camp-Life in the Adirondacks. It was a simple, yet insightful piece on the sheer beauty, the adventure and even the holistic benefits of retreating into the jungle of Adirondack Mountains.
Five years after its publication, 200 camps had been set up across the country. It was all rage abroad too as the Thames River witnessed anxious camp folks, all eager to turn their modest boast into camping cabins.
Murray greatly helped invent a pastime that morphed into a now ubiquitous. Through his unmatched poetic books detailing the wonders of living in nature, mostly based on his experiences, he greatly drew many to this exciting outing.
He could not just write, but would vividly detail the practicalities, including what to see, ways to get there, tents to set up and all the nitty-gritty. Quite simply, it was his moving words that drove locals into camps.
He talked the magical sights, standing atop a mountain summit, looking at the lakes gleaming and the lush trees. To sweeten the descriptions even further, Murray would tie the experience with the nascent benefits one could derive at the camp.
Adirondacks more popular at the time, and “delightful for the ladies,” whom he included the best fun activities for them. Words upon words, delightfully used to capture, attract and arouse, provoke, and excite even the most timid of all.
Adding more color to the beauty were authors, Henry David Thoreau and Ralph Waldo Emerson, whose books about the wonders of living in nature inspired many even more. And that, plus what’s perhaps the first guidebook about recreational camping, 1869 bestseller Adventures in Wilderness, by William H.H. Murray.
The Growth of Camping: The Thomas Hiram Holding Factor
It wasn’t until the 1907 release of the first edition of The Camper’s Handbook that actually made camping a lot more mainstream. The writer; Thomas Hiram Holding, a legendary camper who, at 52, had amassed more expertise crisscrossing more prairies of the United States in a wagon train than anyone else.
Holding was not just a camper and a great lover of outdoors. He was a canoe enthusiast, a cycling champ and an adventure enthusiast too. A tailor by profession, he had covered miles and miles on his bike, camped in Scotland, Ireland, and as far beyond as the punishing jungles of America.
His expeditions, mostly conquering the mighty American mountains, braving the thickly forested wild frontiers, and all, with just his very small, lightweight tent and bike, tell a tale of bravery. However, even in the harsh Scottish Highlands, the British Isles and the US, the legendary father of camping could not forget to pave way for the future campers.
Besides founding the Association of Cycle Campers, the first camping club in the world in 1901, Hiram inspired countless campers and outdoor heartthrobs. And by the time of his death in 1930 this extraordinary camping enthusiast had commanded the greatest authority of camping.
Camping in the 21st Century
While modern-day tents, camping mats and pretty much every gear is a lot different from those of the fathers of camping, the thrill and excitement has never changed. Deep inside the ‘godless wasteland’ of the 1800s, one can now get instant gratification in the mind, body and soul.
Campgrounds no longer have to be the virgin, unexplored lands faraway. The proliferation of campsites for recreational trailer-towing SUVs – sites with reliable power and clean water, nowadays means the adventure is no ordinary.
The technical advances in the gear also mean that even someone who has never gone camping before is sure to have a smooth experience in the wild. Tents are in multiple types, including lightweight nylon ones, tough military tents, and inflatable tents that are easier to pack and pitch.
With the internet, the hassle of locating a perfect campsite and even booking it reduces the whole inconveniences of having to physically do the bookings. Shopping for the right gear is also a lot smoother today as lots of camping-oriented online shops help ship and deliver them.
Time to go Camping, maybe?
With a little fresh breeze, magical sights of rolling hills, gushing rivers, and glacial lakes, a little escape from the dull and ordinary city life never hurts. It gets even better if it is a countryside campsite where you can pitch your tents in an exotic plain, and experience the cool summer breeze.
As Murray would say, camping is good for physical health as it is for mental health and spiritual growth. Even for a rookie camper, there is nothing intimidating about it as there is an overabundance of campgrounds all across America, all serving up unlimited thrill.
You can recreate the same old Murray-inspired outing, marvel at the 44 sparkling lakes tucked amidst the wilderness and discover the gems hidden deep beneath emerald-colored velvet. Or even conquer the canyons, gorges and waterfalls of the Northeast megalopolis.
Maybe it’s about time you go camping as well!