Magazine article Sunset

Happy Campers

Magazine article Sunset

Happy Campers

Article excerpt

LAST SUMMER, we invited readers to write in and tell us why they wanted to join Sunset editors on a camping trip. I confess I wasn't sure how this was going to work. I crossed my fingers and hoped for SO letters, figuring we could always recruit some guinea pigs from among our friends if the response was too paltry.

Well, who knew--our invitation yielded a tsunami of entries, including one written in the form of the Gettysburg Address. "Four years and seven months ago our thoughts brought forth, upon our union, a new notion, conceived in promise, and dedicated to the proposition that camping would be our thing..." (Thank you, Ryan and Katie Ariko of San Jose, for this memorable burst of creativity!)

Our would-be campers ranged from complete newbies to people who had lovingly restored camper vans (and could no doubt teach us a thing or two). We heard from a couple who wanted to celebrate their second marriage--to each other--with us (I hope you went camping anyway and had a blast). A Tucson Cub Scout den leader admitted to an "aversion to camping." One reader had erected a Sunset-style glamping tent--but only in her backyard. Another had requested a camp stove for her 50th birthday and now wanted to learn to use it. We heard of disastrous childhood camping experiences--food eaten by bears, frozen sleeping bags, motorcycle gangs partying through the night in the tent next door--that readers hoped could be replaced with happier recollections. We heard from lots of "mixed" couples who sincerely wanted to share their mates' enthusiasm--"I have never been much of a camper, to my very outdoorsy boyfriend's dismay," wrote a woman in Bend, Oregon. …

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