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It’s time to Campout Carolina. Get on out there.

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This weekend, October 8-10, is the Campout! Carolina event created and sponsored by EarthShare North Carolina. Consider it the Tar Heel State’s localized version of the National Wildlife Federation’s Great American Backyard Campout.

I grew up camping. Ultimately, it was the best way for my parents to take their four wild animals on a vacation that wouldn’t result in trashed hotel rooms or firm requests from amusement park security to “Never come back again.” So we spent a couple of weeks every summer in a Coleman pop-up Griswolding around the St. Lawrence Seaway, wooded sections of New Brunswick, Canada and just about any place in northern New York State that had enough open space for me and my brothers to run freely without the need for a consistent law enforcement presence. To me, camping was something you just did. Like playing little league baseball and riding your bike in the street. We fished, hiked, had fires and crapped in a plastic green canister. It rocked.

Once I became an adult (which is still up for debate), I found it odd to learn that some people have never been camping. Never. Been. Camping. Seriously, that’s how odd that sounds to me, it makes me write in single-word sentence fragments. The mere mention of a weekend in the woods around a few of my friends elicits reactions not unlike those I would collect by suggesting we spend the weekend clubing rescue dogs.

I can understand why a person has never been backpacking, that’s entirely different. Car camping though? It’s a scratchy comforter and 17” tube television away from a Days Inn. And the coffee is way better.

Ultimately, I most sad about the fact that so few of us really ever know what exists above the shingled plywood roofs under which we slumber or beyond the drywall that encloses us. And even beyond those barriers, far away from city limits and school zones. We need to get out there more, folks. And this weekend is a great time to start. Get the kids, find some friends and go rent a tent if you need to.

The REI in Durham has a lot of the details and ways to get started enjoying the outdoors. Give it a shot.

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