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Reflections: If you're taking this old woman camping, it had better come with room service

Erna de Burger-Fex just can't fathom the romance associated with sleeping in the great outdoors
tent camping outdoors
While many can't wait to leave it all behind and go camping, columnist Erna de Burger-Fex would much rather enjoy the comforts of the outdoors … indoors. (File)

Going camping sounds so exciting, even inviting.

Coping with all manner of creatures, such as caterpillars, black flies, mosquitoes and snakes is seldom mentioned. That ends the camping romance for this senior citizen.

My idea of camping is a four-star — or better yet, a five-star — hotel! No demands on me regarding meals, dishes, vacuuming, you get the idea. No bugs nor other ugly creatures to worry about. Does that make me a sissy? I happily accept the title.

The idea of sleeping in a tent has never appealed to me. We live in bear country after all. These bears are very bold, not afraid of people at all. Hanging my food up high in a tree doesn’t make much sense since bears climb trees at great speed. I’ve watched them. No, not for me. Why would this senior lady expose herself to that kind of danger? I can’t run as fast as I used to. That right knee of mine complains too much and my cane just slows me down, so that’s no use in such a situation. Right?

Now living in a well-appointed cottage is different. An indoor bathroom, running water, shower, comfortable beds with sheets, electricity — in short, all the comforts of home. That is civilized camping to me – if not in a hotel. 

I love hearing the birds in early morning and at night. Campfires are great until the bugs drive us indoors. Nothing will get me to enjoy bugs of any kids, with the one exception being fireflies, they’re magical.

I do enjoy the proximity of the water. It cools the environment. That’s certainly a positive. I used to enjoy an occasional swim, but I’m now content to watch others do that. Getting back up on the dock is nearly impossible for an elderly woman – this woman anyway. Some things are better left to my near and dear ones.

I love watching sailboats go by. Watching my family on those boards where they stand up and paddle and glide over the water fascinates me. Not that I would ever try it, I’d likely drown with my poor swimming skills, That’s all right, I don’t mind watching them enjoy themselves in this strange manner, as long as they arrive safely on shore afterwards.

My family members love to fish. They even catch fish regularly. Lots of excitement when they do. So far, I have caught one fish in my long life. That’s right — one fish! My problem with fishing is my lack of patience. Those fish wait too long to try my bait. Often, they escape with it, leaving me with an empty hook. OK, I’ll try one more time, but then if they’re only teasing me by stealing my worm, I’ll pick up my book until the others have finished and are ready to go home.

Cooking on a campfire defies all logic to me. I like to barbecue, that is, my husband does, and we eat comfortably inside at the table. It’s relaxing. Time to chat with a glass of wine and discuss the day, maybe even the weather if it was not as expected. I can’t imagine reading outside in the evening while swatting flies.

By now you understand my feelings about camping,– indoors that is.   

Erna de Burger-Fex is a writer and retired teacher who writes about aging and the funny side of getting older. Got a question for Erna? Email