Design

Do You Like Camping?

bear_car_yellowstone

When I was 14, like many teenagers, I felt like a partial adult. I couldn’t drive a car, but I could go on my own to the mall with friends on a Saturday night. I wasn’t allowed to have boys in my room, but I did my fair share of making out with them, secretly, in other parts of the house. I wore a bra, but was mortified for anyone to see it hanging up to dry. So, imagine my horror…

The summer after freshman year, I spent a month volunteering in Montana with a dozen other high school students, most of them boys. We took a trip to Yellowstone and stopped to appreciate Old Faithful on our way to a backcountry camping spot, where we hoped to see some bison and elk, but not any grizzly bears or wolves. We were stocked with trail mix, hot dogs and packs of Uno.

A few hours after we’d pitched our tents and filled up our Nalgene bottles with spring water and iodine tablets, a ranger came by. He told us grizzlies had been in the area and asked a question: “Is it that time of month for any of the young women here?”

My heart pounded. I’d been visiting the latrine that day with my supplies hidden up the sleeve of my shirt so nobody could see. The ranger asked for a show of hands. I had no idea what to do or how his question related to bears, but I slowly raised my arm and felt everyone staring at me.

The ranger advised me to SLEEP IN A CAGE! For my safety. Something about the bears and menstruation and… I didn’t even hear the details, but I spent the night in a tiny, three-sided wood structure that had a fourth wall of open metal bars secured by a huge, rusty lock. In reluctant solidarity, the two other girls on the trip kept me company that night.

I’ve camped a bit since, but I’ve never, ever forgotten the bear cage. It’s a memory that stands firmly in front of what might have been a lifelong love of camping. (By the way, scientists now know that periods don’t attract bears. Camp with confidence!)

What about you? Have you had any camping nightmares? And, if you’re a big camper, what do you love about it?

P.S. Yurt vacations and amazing ideas for family travel.

(Photo by Andrew H. Brown, via National Geographic)

  1. Hi Jo!

    What a crazy experience – I couldn’t believe you actually had to spend a night in such a contraption! I went on my first “real” camping trip last weekend and I was super nervous about it, especially the chances of potentially running into a bear or some other large animal.

    My partner is an avid camper and so he made it quite easy to enjoy by explaining a few key must-do practices and showing me how to just enjoy the tranquility of it. I truly appreciate his love for it now and although I don’t love it (mainly because I probably won’t ever get over my fear of big scary animals), I’m looking forward to taking future trips with him to bond and unplug from the everyday hustle and bustle.

    I hope you try camping again soon!

    P.S. that ranger was such a goof

  2. Heidi says...

    That is the craziest and dumbest thing I’ve ever heard! And misguided- if anything, the bears will smell you more and be MORE likely to stay away from you. They don’t like humans! I led wilderness backpacking and canoeing trips for about 5 summers, plus my own personal trips in bear country and have never worried about having my period!
    Don’t let that dumb ass, egotistical, “hey there little lady, don’t let the bears get you” male keep you from the beauty and freedom of the outdoors!

  3. I went camping one and I will never go again! First no one told me what I needed to bring! I was 17. I brought my beautiful silk pajamas and a 500ml bottle of water. I almost froze to death at night and I swear I heard a wolf in the background! I love nature but I can’t sleep in it!

  4. I’ve gone on several camping trips across sub-Saharan Africa and now I’m hooked. My favorite way to camp is to rent a 4×4 with a pop-up rooftop tent because it feels like you’re sleeping in a mobile treehouse each night. The cooking with tiny pots and pans, meeting other travelers over a beer around a fire, the setting up and tearing down of your tent…it all becomes a fun routine and lifestyle that I miss when it’s over.

  5. We love love love camping! Both me and my other half are Scout Leaders (I think they’re called Masters in the US) so we are used to it but we don’t only camp with the kids. We use any opportunity to go camping close to the beach (living where the Mediterranean Sea meets the Atlantic Ocean is a great plus).

    We love falling asleep listening to leaves rustle in the wind, waking up to the sounds of the sea, just being outside all the time. It’s the best! And yes, we bring everything but the kitchen sink! We even bought a new car because the boot was slightly larger to accomodate our camping equipment :D

  6. If you have the right expectations, camping can be awesome. Try camping in Iceland. In some parts it’s like camping on the set of Lord of the rings. Green mountains, snow mountains, beautiful. If that doesn’t turn you on to camping, I don’t know what will :)

  7. oh no that is horrible. As a teenager you are just so fragile and vulnerable, I can´t even imagine how that must have been like, both having to reveal to everyone about your period and then having to sleep in a bear cage. you poor thing….

  8. Kara says...

    I Just lol’ed so hard! If only you had written about this in your diary at the time. It could totally be a mortified episode :) Thanks for the laughter!

  9. Jo says...

    Hi, Lexi!

    Oh boy. I’m cringing (at how embarrassed? I would have felt if I were the high school sophomore you were) and I REALLY don’t want to laugh but I’m laughing…at the same time. Thank you(?) for sharing!!!

  10. coral says...

    That is the craziest story – what a great job that park ranger did in instilling a love of outdoors in young people!! I camped a lot as a kid and love doing it as an adult and mom, it connects me to my youth and to nature, settles that constant craving for adventure, and is the most affordable family fun you can have.

  11. bisbee says...

    I haven’t camped for YEARS, but did back when I was in college and after I was married, when my children were young. I NEVER heard that about periods…and I know I had mine on more than one camping trip. Granted…this camping took place on the east coast – only black bears – and moe than 30 years ago – but still…

  12. Courtney says...

    I got my period for the first time while I was camping with my whole extended family!! There were no “supplies” close so my whole family had to find out that my Mom was taking me into town because I got my first period. Everyone thought it was a great conversation topic for the rest of the trip. Ha!!

  13. Oh Lexi! Luckily here in New Zealand we don’t have to worry about bears. What a story!

  14. surbhi says...

    This is the best story ever. It would probably be one of the first things I told people I just met. So good.

  15. Gloria says...

    Jim Gaffigan put it perfectly, “there’s no such thing as a happy camper!” I love the outdoors but I hate camping. I’ll hike all day but I want to sleep in a comfy bed in a climate controlled room, take a shower, eat real food and most of all not smell like a camp fire.

    • Linda says...

      Yes, this. I’ll walk for miles, but give me a bed.

  16. I got my first period at girls camp. That was mortifying enough. But I Love Camping! We are in the car camping club, with kids, but I would love to try backpacking.

  17. Rachel says...

    What!!?? I had no idea that people actually used to believe that. I thought it was just a joke. I love camping, and I have a fear of bears, but that is the craziest thing I have ever heard from a National Park.

  18. Amy says...

    This has to be the craziest post you’ve ever shared about your past!

  19. Laughed out loud reading this. How horrifying for a young girl! You poor thing. I love that you are now able to share this story with the world though :)

  20. Teree says...

    This is my favorite thing you have ever written and I’ve been reading your blog for 8 years.

    • Irene says...

      Joanna didn’t write this – Lexi did

  21. Oh my gosh, I’m crying this is so funny! I couldn’t even retell the story without hysterically laughing. Thanks for sharing.

  22. sarah says...

    This is seriously the best thing I’ve read on the Jo in forever!! I wish this was my story because it is hilarious! Thanks for sharing!

    • Lexi Mainland says...

      Hahaha, thanks so much, Sarah. You have my permission to tell it as your own any time you like.

  23. Eliza says...

    I used to love camping. Three years ago we planned a camping trip at the beach (Assateague Island) and at the last minute my husband had to go out of town. I went anyway, with my three little kids, despite forecasted rain. My sister and her husband were in the adjacent site. Long story short, there was thunder and lightning and crazy wind, and a tornado off the coast that night and our tent flooded, leaving us soaked at 2 am. Our car was parked too far away and the rain was too heavy for us to pack up so we stuck it out in the tent all night. A few weeks later, we went camping again, this time with my husband (and a new tent), and on our second night there was a derecho, which is a huge, dark and sudden storm. It knocked down trees all around us, hitting other cars and tents (not ours). I have refused to go camping since then, but I’m holding out hope that I can enjoy it again someday!

    • ne says...

      Oh no!! But, so funny!!

  24. illana says...

    OMG!! That horrifies me! That must have been so traumatic and lonely!! Joanna, I literally have had only a microscopic interest in camping (and have never done it, really, not sleeping in a tent,) and I now have serious doubts about ever doing it, simply because the image of a young girl having sleep like that breaks my heart!!

  25. Lara says...

    hahaha! Years of blogging and you tell this story just now?! :)

    • Gabrielle says...

      Lexi wrote this

  26. Lori says...

    This is hilarious!!

  27. Karin says...

    Lexi, it is just a great story! I loved it! it is so nice that you and Joanna are so honest and talks about all the things that nobody really talks about them :)

  28. Keavy says...

    This MADE my day!! Hilarious!

  29. carrie says...

    That is outrageously funny!

  30. What an engaging and funny story. I spent many nights camping as a brownie and girl scout, thankfully I never had to sleep in a cage. What a crazy memory to have stored away for great posts like this. Love it and keep them coming.

  31. Nina says...

    Wow. I hate camping and never had this experience! Can you imagine…and seriously doesnt it make it easier for the bear to get you…they can reach INTO cages, right? Good to know they are not land sharks!

  32. Oh you poor thing! That ranger reminds me of someone from Super Troopers! Thanks for sharing this very funny story, I’m sorry you had to go through that but don’t we all, oh adolescence! – Charlie, http://www.lemonbutterlove.com

  33. Sarah J says...

    INSANE. Oh my goodness and at the age of 14. I’d never camp again. Great funny post.

  34. Sasha says...

    I got my first period while camping with my family, which meant we all had to drive to the not-so-near grocery store, so my Mom could buy me pads. Still like camping, though!

  35. Meredith says...

    I think I would need a camper with a bed and bathroom to ever go camping again…..and I guess that really isn’t camping. I’ve spent way too many weekends in my younger years sleeping in a tent, uncomfortably, feeling dirty all day, and using those gross restrooms that all smell the same…..(and always have either a giant spider or reptile of some kind hanging out) to want to camp again. I love nature but hate sleeping on the ground.

  36. KT says...

    This was hilarious! I’m really enjoying Lexi’s funny, candid style. More, please! :)

  37. Mer says...

    Camping addict here and I absolutely loved this post! First of all, so sorry that happened to you….but how brave of you to be truthful!!!! And that article about periods not attracting bears made me laugh out loud, especially the part about ‘riding the tiny cotton pony’. I’ve never heard it described that way…

  38. That is so appalling. I’m glad you can laugh at it now, but I had no idea that rangers actually did this, ever. When did this happen?! I have been living and camping in bear country up here in Alaska for 15 years and while I’ve always known I have to be careful with my food and trash, including period “trash”, I’ve also known that there is no reason not to camp just because I was menstruating. Even if it was a true thing, I am just so sad that the rangers didn’t think about a better way to bring it up to people, especially teenagers! So crazy to me.

    That all being said, I don’t always sleep all that great while camping, especially if we have seen bears around that day. But it’s worth it to be out there. Now, with a toddler, we started bringing a bear-fence to put around the tent when we can, and that little extra peace of mind is awesome.

  39. Roxana says...

    OH MY GOODNESS! That is hilarious. You poor thing. I can only imagine how mortified you were.

    The way you told that story was great, too :).

    I love camping, but haven’t been in a long time. No nightmare experiences to report. My husband and I are looking forward to camping when our two littles (4 and almost 2) are a bit older.

    In the meantime, sleeping in a cool tent in the rain, in northern Michigan, is probably one of my best camping experiences/memories.

    You should try camping again!

  40. oh my gosh joanna this made me laugh out loud, you created the best visual in my head!! you poor thing…ugh!
    we just moved out of the city (sigh!) and down to the beach close to my family. there was family sleepover at our beach our first week in, my two older kids were so excited for it since they did it last year. i was so nervous because it would be my first night sleeping alone with my almost four year old, booker, without my husband bobby, in our new home. booker was in his pj’s and we stayed through dinner and part of the movie at the beach and then drove home. i pulled in the driveway and was so nervous because i forgot to leave lights on that morning when we left for the beach. we got home to a scary looking dark house and our side door was wide OPEN! i panicked and drove back to the beach and the five of us slept all together in our tent. everyone slept and woke up after 7am, i couldn’t believe it! i would’ve never planned to do that but booker is already looking forward to next years! xo

  41. Laura says...

    that is a really funny story!
    we used to camp a lot when i was a kid, and i liked it fine then. but as i got older and started traveling more i realized…. i’m more “indoors-y” – i’ll take a nice hotel over a tent any day. :)

  42. oh my gosh. that is hilarious and terrifying. it would likely have been death by humiliation either way for me. we’re gearing up for a week-long camping trip with faye and i’ve been mostly trying to forget the time that i had to wake up james with a head-butt because there was a black bear outside of our tent!

  43. TootieMcBear says...

    That story was awesome. I was laughing out loud. Thank you.

    I was a girl scout for years. I always went to summer camp and did extended camping trips with do-it-yourself latrines, sleeping under widow-makers, getting covered with leaches, etc. …. But I’m done. I hate camping so much now, mostly because I crave good sleep and I hate waking up covered in dew.

    I live in Chattanooga, TN and many of the women here are very granola-chic because of the mountains, river and trail heads everywhere. They camp with gusto and I commend them. My very elegant friend takes her three and one year old camping ALL THE TIME. She and her husband are all about the romance of the campfire. …. But me, I’m at the bar:)

    • Talia says...

      “me, I’m at the bar” – made me laugh out loud! I agree 100% though!

  44. Hahaha! oh no!!! At 14 it’s a complete nightmare!!
    I don’t like camping but I never want to say it because I feel I’m ruining somebody’s idea of it.
    It sounds so good and romantic. Nature, fresh air, the moon…but to me it’s more like mosquito bites, yucky bathrooms and freezing cold feet! So no, in order to get sleep I need the comfort of a clean bedroom.
    I’ve always wished I liked camping, though, but noooo….

    Alina
    http://www.eclecticalu.blogspot.com

  45. Absolutely bloody hilarious! Put in a cage because you have your period :-)
    I love camping but it’s taken a while, we take some home comforts like our duvet. Makes it feel more homely!

  46. Diana says...

    We just returned home after a 4 day backpacking trip. It was wonderful except for one day hike where we got caught in a torrential rainstorm with a few scary lightning bolts. We were at about 11,000 feet and hustled back to our tents (not that they offer any protection from lightning) as fast as we could. Sleeping under the stars, bathing in an ice cold stream, hiking through meadows filled with wildflowers and through snowfields up to high mountain passes is a priceless vacation in my opinion! :)

  47. Talia says...

    Seriously – no! Roughing it for me is a hotel with no room service. I am not an outdoor person. I hate it. Sadly, my husband loves it.

    Funniest camping story yet!

  48. OMG, how horrifying!

  49. Julianna says...

    Hahahaha! How horrifying for you!

  50. Colleen says...

    I did for sixth grade camp (not that it was technically camping), and that was enough. We did a five-hour hike up a mountain in ninety-eight-degree heat (because it was Southern California in May), and we were all required to drink a cup of milk before we could have the luxury of drinking water or fruit punch. My milk got a fly in it, which I fished out, and then downed in one gulp because I HATE milk. When I went to grab my luxury water, they were out, so I had to settle for teawater temperature fruit punch. Yuck.

  51. That’s terrifying! I have never heard that myth! But then again, I rarely go camping.

  52. Prudence Marule says...

    where do you get the pictures you title entries with? they all so randomly appropriate, its too cute.

    that has to be the funniest and most mortifying period tale ever told! – i personally would have never admitted it, i would have rather asked why he asked once we firmly established “no one” was on their period.

    I’ve never been a fan of camping in any form, I’m a city girl through and through.. the idea of sleeping on the ground anywhere is dodgy for me, I’m also a germ-a-phobe who barely trusts some peoples couches to sit on let alone a random patch of earth somewhere? *freaking out* -no thanks!

  53. That is absolutely mortifying – especially for a teenage girl!

    I adore camping and am actually heading out on a 42 mile backpacking trip tonight. I don’t think that there’s anything NOT to like about the woods. It’s so secluded and peaceful, and for the next four days I will have nothing to worry about but walking, eating and getting sleep. Plus, I think it is an incredible bonding experience for people. Something about being in the woods grounds people and their thoughts return to the purest aspects of their personality. I’m embarking on this trip with my boyfriend and can’t wait to see what lies ahead for us.

  54. P.S. I’m a former Yellowstone park ranger, and I’m glad to say those rusty ‘period cages’ are long gone. Yikes!

  55. OMG! Good for you for making it through that embarrassing situation and I think it’s so sweet the other girls slept with you to keep you company, even if it was reluctantly. Thank you for sharing that awesome story!

  56. janelle says...

    WOW sorry for your sake, but pretty funny. Thanks, by the way, for debunking this myth. I’m headed to Yellowstone in September…would be totally nervous should things align that way.

    • Lexi Mainland says...

      Have a great time! All will be well…

  57. So, I actually live right outside of the East Gate to Yellowstone and, as you can imagine, camping is a HUGE part of the culture here, though I’m an oddball in that sense as I’ve only been a few times (I actually like it, we just never get around to it). I’d never heard of this bizarre advice about bears (though, yeah, don’t want bears in a campground); glad that weird theory has been debunked and that you still like to go camping!

  58. That’s such a mortifying experience you had!! So sorry you had to sleep in a cage! I love that they based that on pure conjecture -_- I didn’t start camping until I started college and the first few times were not pleasant because I was so unprepared with food, water, & sleeping arrangements. But after the first few unpleasant trips, I learned about all the great camping gear that can make the whole experience much more comfortable! On top of better gear, my husband renovated our ’97 Dodge Ram passenger van a couple years ago with a solar-panel, fold-out queen bed, sink, fridge, and vent fan and now I can’t bear to camp in a tent! Oh, and with my husband, we camp for the sake of climbing or mountain biking =)

  59. That is CRAZY! And that’s why it’s a good thing that we have more and more female rangers these days. The guy totally mismanaged the situation! (not the mention having some pretty off-base ideas about women attracting bears…) I really love camping and have done it enough to know how to handle ‘that time of the month’ out in the woods. It’s really not that big of a deal. The peace, adventure, and bonding time with your friends makes it totally worth it!

  60. EliCaroline says...

    Ohmygosh! This is mortifying! The embarrassment of having to raise your hand and then being called out – and then told that you should sleep in a cage! I cringed and laughed.

  61. anne says...

    that is he best story. ever.

  62. I LOVE camping!! One with certain people though; got to have someone with you who will make sure you make memories and have the best time:)x
    AllysDays.blogspot.com

  63. Lindsay says...

    Great story Lexi! I grew up in Toronto and started going to camp in northern Ontario at age 5. By age 7 I was going on week-long canoe trips to the back country with my fellow campers, our cousellors and out-tripping guides. Over the years I worked my way up to month-long canoe trips. Camping from a young age taught me invaluable life skills, provided me with life-long bonds, gifted me with an unwavering appreciation for the natural world and our shared responsibility to protect it. Camping is one of the greatest life experiences my parents provided me. And having your canoe tipped by a moose also makes for a great tale!

    • Elizabeth says...

      That sounds amazing. Just curious which camp you went to- looking for this for my son.

  64. Lauren E. says...

    I am dying! And I second the idea of a “most embarrassing stories” feature.

    My only embarrassing camping story (which doesn’t hold a CANDLE to yours): I was once invited to join a friend and her mom on a camping trip in their little pop up camper when I was about 11 or 12. Imagine my surprise and horror when they showed me the little portable toilet that you had to use in the middle of the camper, out in the open for all to see. And imagine my further horror when the girl’s mother dropped trough and peed right in front of us.

  65. yael steren says...

    I’m not into camping and one of my favorite comedians, Jim Gaffigan, does a little bit about camping that it hysterical!!! xo yael

    http://www.yaelsteren.com/blog/

  66. Jen says...

    wow how mortifying. especially since you were only 14!

    we recently camped at lake tahoe and they have very strict requirements. basically any food or anything that smells need to be put in the bear locker or you face a fine of $1000!

  67. Emily says...

    That is the best Yellowstone Story *ever.* When hiking on a trail close to the edge our town in BC, we were chased by a black bear, very unusual. When we finally stopped my partner ‘Mr Woodsman’ goes, “do you have your period?!” I was totally indignant (even though I did.)

    As I get older I appreciate more how these mishaps are the stuff of life. They make the best memories. I hope you try camping again, you can always sleep in the car.

  68. And the gold medal for most embarrassing story goes to…

  69. You were so brave and honest to raise your hand! I’m trying to imagine what I would have done….I know I would have been scared and out of my mind obsessing over grizzly bears! I want to go camping so badly in a remote place/not the typical campground experience…would be so exhilarating to be out of my comfort zone of running water, food in the fridge, and makeup and curling irons!

    Love this hilarious story! xo

    (=’.’=)
    -Lauren
    adorn la femme

  70. Melissa says...

    Oh God! I laughed with horror throughout this entire story. Your poor teenaged self!

  71. Jamie says...

    Haha, this is actually one of the funniest things I have ever read!

  72. Emily says...

    Btw, nothing like that experience! That is awful!!! And such a great story now!

  73. Emily says...

    I love car camping with family and friends, but I’ve only had one good backpacking experience out of three (and it involved a mid-week overnight at a b+b). The other two times were in high school at a camp – we had to carve our own spoons to have something to eat with, use maps from the 70s that were often no longer relevant, and weren’t allowed to know the time. And the passive aggressive, holier than thou (it was a Christian camp) girl dynamics were the cherry on top. I’m amazed it didn’t ruin me for camping!

  74. Paige C says...

    That’s…just…HORRIBLE! You poor thing! I don’t think I would have slept a wink.

    And while I’m all for enjoying the great outdoors and I don’t think of myself as super girly, I definitely don’t camp. Thank goodness I found a fellow non-camper to marry!

  75. That is a wild story.. an actual cage.. how terrifying for anyone, let alone a 14 year old girl. At least now you have a great story to tell!

  76. I really think I may have just kept my hand down and risked it. How embarrassing! But good for you for being brave + good for your friends for staying in there with you!

    I adore camping. I think if I could live full-time on this island I used to go to in Lake George, I would (post here for anyone who’s interested: http://wanderlustywriter.com/2014/08/27/wanderlusty-wednesday-6/) My cousins and I now go to this place in north Jersey every August, just for the weekend, and I look to forward to it every year!

  77. Karen says...

    Oh my gosh! How mortifying and absolutely hilarious. I laughed and laughed and laughed! Was not expecting that!

  78. Mollie says...

    I love camping, but have also had a horrifying story (of a different, less personal mortifying sorts). I was a camp counselor at a wilderness-like camp (over 12,000 feet above sea level, in the middle of the woods). On camp out night we’d take our cabin of girls (and meet up with a few other cabins) and hike out even further into the middle-of-nowhere, and cook what the camp had given us (at this point, they were giving us packets for pasta alfredo) and then we’d all sleep under the stars. Well, one week, in the middle of the night, in the middle-of-nowhere, a camper started puking. A counselor got up to help her, and then we heard another one puking, and then another, and then another — turns out the camp had gotten Noro Virus. We had to gather all the girls, and help them miles back to camp while they puked along the way. I’ll never ever forget it. Also, I’ve never had pasta alfredo ever again.

  79. Jill says...

    I love roughing it in a tent and cooking over the fire – it really makes you appreciate all your first-world amenities when you return home. It makes you recognize the privileges we have in our countries (I’m from Canada): Look at some of the refugee camps in the world where people are forced to live this way – it’s crazy that we’re able to voluntarily set up tents in collective communities for enjoyment.

  80. Katie S says...

    We’re actually leaving tomorrow night after work for a week long camping holiday!
    Living in central British Columbia is seems like everyone has a trailer or camper, and we’re the same.

    We take our 25″ Jayco to a forestry campground on a lake 6 hours away that doesn’t have washrooms or running water, it’s great :)

  81. Shannon says...

    Hilarious! How mortifying for a teenager. But good for you to show an act of bravery by raising your hand.

  82. Jessica says...

    You should do a series on embarrassing stories!

    • Yulia says...

      AGREED! There are so many good ones out there… and imagine the comments section filled with all of our stories!

  83. Jessica says...

    Oh my gosh! I cannot stop laughing! That is the most horrifying and hilarious story! 😂

  84. I’m so sorry Lexi but this made me laugh SO MUCH.

  85. That is terrible! I have been backcountry camping on my period several times now with no problem! How totally embarrassing!! The cage, oh my goodness!

  86. Seriously!!!!??? That is CRAZY!! How sad and embarrassed and horrible you must have felt. I cannot even imagine.

  87. My dad still loves to go camping, so we do go pretty frequently, but honestly I hate camping!! From the bugs to the bathroom situations to the elements so close to you….no thank you. But then again….the family moments may be worth it. May be.

    xx

  88. Elise says...

    WHAT?! I think I would have been too mortified to even raise my hand. Cannot believe you were put in a CAGE. And, really, that ranger could have been a little more tactful about the whole thing, geez!

  89. Anne says...

    I grew up camping with my family, so I’ve always loved it. Our version of family vacation was pitching a tent (or eventually a pop-up camper) at some surrounding state park in Iowa (the scariest animals were the raccoon who would try to get into our coolers at night). I have fond memories of sitting around the fire, trying (and ultimately failing) at fishing, riding our bikes, playing board games. I didn’t always love every minute of it. There was one camping trip where we stayed next to a six flags and I had a little too much junk food at the park that day and we got slammed with a storm in the evening. My poor dad had to stay up with a very sick kid and we all slept in our suburban when our tent started leaking. Anyway, I would encourage you to try camping again. Even if sleeping in a tent isn’t your cup of tea–I think being out in nature, away from technology, forced to confront boredom in a real way can be very refreshing. My absolute favorite place to camp is along the North Shore in Minnesota. I went there several times in my twenties. Hardly any big critters to speak of, the views of superior are breathtaking, and it stays relatively cool in the summer months. And if you really aren’t a camper, there are tons of cabins to glamp in :)

  90. Ok this is by far the funniest thing I have ever read on this site.

    Also…the most mortifying.

  91. i’m sorry. this is really funny, now.
    i wish judy blume had written a story about something like this. because i can’t even imagine sleeping in a cage.

  92. Oh my goodness, that’s too funny and embarrassing!
    My family used to go camping every summer while I was a child. I hated it then, but love it as an adult. One trip there had been bear sightings in someone’s tents! That might just be how I remember it?
    One year we were evacuated due to funnel cloud sightings or a possible tornado in the area. And yet another I was covered head to toe with swimmers itch. Another year there was so much rain everything was soaked.
    All those bad events stick out clearly in my mind but I fondly remember roasting marshmallows nightly around the fire, new friends even though I was painfully shy and ham sandwiches and cold grapes for lunch in canvas lawn chairs.
    I can’t wait to take my kids camping, even if it’s just in our field.

  93. Christa says...

    I CANT EVEN. please tell me you were on “Punk’d” because that is the funniest, most embarrassing thing I have ever heard. Thank you for making my day. I’m actually an outdoor recreation professional, so camping is my jam. This weekend we’ll be kayaking & traversing Redfish Lake in Idaho, kickin’ it with the wildlife under the stars.

  94. oh my gosh!! that had to have been so embarrassing!! but WHAT a great story you have to tell these days!! i cannot believe that!!

  95. That is hilarious and horrific! I can’t imagine having to raise my hand for that at 14. I probably would have taken my chance with a bear – ha!

  96. Allison says...

    Oh my goodness!! I cannot imagine the degree of red your face must have been – I think I turned red just reading this story! How brave of you to raise your hand… I don’t think I would’ve had the courage!

  97. kathryn says...

    This is so funny!

  98. Well, my idea of “camping” is a room without air-conditioning and a claw-foot bath tub. I hate feeling grimy and hot. Hate hearing strange noises where I’m sleeping. And in the morning, I’m looking for a sunlit cafe serving fresh strawberries and hot coffee in china cups. So, the sort of camping to which you refer…count me out. xx

  99. jeannie says...

    How mortifying to have to answer that question at age 14!!! What a hilarious story. I must say that I would have been worried if I had been one of the uncaged girls keeping you compnay that you would attract the bear and I would get eaten!

    • Lexi Mainland says...

      The other girls slept in the cage with me, like little sardines!

  100. This is absolutely hilarious and made my day. I definitely can see how that would kind of scar you for life when it comes to camping. I like camping but I prefer it to be at campgrounds that have bathrooms with running water.

  101. What a funny story! I’m bummed it turned you off from camping, though. I adore the campfire and hiking during the day, etc…but I hate trying to sleep in the tent. So, when we go it’s usually for two or at most three nights. Thanks for mythbusting the idea about the bears and periods!

    Also…this clip:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tfboOt1bJcA

  102. Jess says...

    this post could not be more timely! i went camping this past weekend (with my period) and although i love camping, have decided i won’t go when it’s “that time of the month” in the future. the cramps were excruciating and i seem to have attracted more mosquito bites than usual (my husband counted 40 when we got home!).

  103. This is so not what I was expecting! When I saw the title, I was like “why yes, I do.” I was not expecting to literally laugh. out. loud! This post made my day. Thanks for sharing!

  104. How mortifying! Nice you can look back on it and laugh. My camping motto is inspired by Anne Taintor, I Love Not Camping.

  105. Oh my gosh! I can’t believe the ranger did that to you! I probably would have lied to spare myself the embarrassment. I love camping! We do a huge family camping trip every year :)

  106. Sadie says...

    Oh. My. God. I am dying. The entire process of the rangers conceiving of and building a period cage is making me laugh-cry. It’s like the red tent, only for keeping out bears!

    I love camping, but it does have its share of unintended intimacy and inadvertent violations of privacy.

  107. Only started enjoying camping recently to be honest. I loved this post, can’t thing that we get that here in South Africa but I think I will be much more cautious now! Loved this post, really made me laugh :) x

  108. Betsy says...

    That is both the best and worst camping story ever – you are my new hero!

    I hate camping. Hate hate hate it. My sweet husband loves it but accepts that my idea of camping is Motel 6.

  109. So not a camper right here! Gimme a nice comfy bed and a hot shower. But my little ones LOVE it. They love the movie RV and just the idea of sleeping in a pop up tent/RV/ or pop up camper is such a thrill for them! Not me, the mosquito magnet. Ha. Oh well. I camp for them though even though the whole experience is quite itchy for me!!!

  110. Barb says...

    You’re brave to be honest! I wouldn’t care at all now, of course, but as a teen? I think I would have rather been eaten by the bear!!

  111. Evalee says...

    Aha! I loved this, mostly because I just returned from camping with my family and my sister woke up one night to growling outside her tent. And yes, it was “that time of the month.” It was probably just a small animal, but we feel less sheepish thinking it was a bear. A huge bear. I love camping – the outdoors, the early mornings, the late night fires (if no ban), the food, the unavoidable conversations and games throughout the long days – fantastic. I look fondly on these childhood memories, but this time around, for the first time in years, I went as a mother. And boy oh boy, what a difference! Still all the goodness, but I’ll need some practice while balancing a toddler and baby in the outdoors. Exhausted having returned home, but looking forward to next trip already!

  112. That is awful and hilarious at the same time. How mortifying and bizarre! A cage?? Thanks for making me laugh this morning!

  113. Liv says...

    Oh ma ga- that is absolutely mortifying. I love it! We’re big hikers and campers over here. I did have a honeymoon encounter with a Grizzly in Yellowstone. My husband was very brave and manly and it all worked out in his favor later on- ;)