I have to admit that while I enjoy traveling by snowshoe or ski in the winter, I find myself daydreaming for the spring, so I can spend some days in camp.
My first TR Camp of the season is usually in Nebraska at an Outdoor Expo. Here, local school children are bused in to explore activities that hopefully will excite them into a life time of outdoor pursuits. These include kayaking, archery, fishing, identifying animal tracks, camping, shooting and many more. During the day, TR Camp gets very busy, with children visiting me and sharing their adventures of the day as I share mine of a lifetime. By the time they visit me they get an idea of how those experiences can come together to create a life-long adventure, which helps in the overall development of that wonderful attribute – Character. I try to embody that lesson so that they understand how those elements came together to create the leader we appreciate as Roosevelt, and the importance he placed on the natural environment in doing so. Based on the feedback, thankfully that message is being well received. But as much as I enjoy TR Camp during the hustle and bustle during the morning and afternoon, I appreciate it as much for its solitude at the end of the day.
When the crowd leaves, camp becomes eerily quiet. I am often the only one there, other than the occasional Park Ranger making sure everything is secure.
This time of year, it is not unusual for a storm cloud to pass over, quickly cooling the air and dropping rain that taps lightly on my canvas roof. The cool air finds me stoking the wood stove and settling by my writing desk to read or jot my notes from the day. The view out my door is a park – an open field or river that gurgles as I read or write. Sometimes, spring winds whistle through the tree branches or if the sun peaks out it alerts the birds to squawk and explore.
The crowd, including the other exhibitors have left. Most are booked into a warm hotel room back in town with a bath, electricity and multiple television channels of nothing to watch. When they come back in the morning they find me sitting by my fire with a hot cup of coffee. Each seems shocked when I answer “yes” to their question “Do you sleep here”? I have never questioned my sanity for “roughing it”.
I invite them into my warm tent and pour them a steaming cup of coffee and we talk for a bit about the day before and the day to come. When they leave I pity them for missing the sunset the past evening or the amazing sunrise that morning or the squall that pulled at my tent pegs during the night.
I will let Roosevelt finish this best. “Nowhere, not even at sea, does a man feel more lonely than when riding over the far-reaching, seemingly never-ending plains; and after a man has lived a little while on or near them, their very vastness and loneliness and their melancholy monotony have a strong fascination for him.”