MGMT has a song called “Kids” (that the kids love to play on the piano-to our amusement), with a line in it that says, “Control yourself, take only what you need from it”. I like that. It reminds me of one of the better lessons I have learned in this life from my Dad. Leave it better than you found it.
When I was a kid, we would go camping, hiking or out fighting ants and birds over ripe raspberries downstate, and no matter where we went, we made sure that when we left, so did all the litter lying around.
As I grew, I found a guy that also kept to this same credo (so I married him!). We’re campers. We’ve camped through southern Ontario’s Provincial Parks, upstate NY, Colorado, Moab, Utah and the Green Mountains of Vermont. We would at times camp in an allotted site, but usually we would drive off-road and find our own place. Showers, be damned! We carried in everything we needed.
One adventure, as we pulled off a dirt road and drove the Jeep into the mountains, we found a bike path amidst the pine trees with a fire pit, so we pitched the tent. True roughing it. It was also the best ‘bathroom’ view I have ever seen: looking over the tops of miles of trees. A close second is the 96th Floor women’s bathroom in the Hancock overlooking Chicago-but I digress (no way!).
We would always spend a few minutes during each camping trip to fill up some bags with the garbage lying around the area. Those camp sites sure did look pretty when we left.
This summer, we shall be taking our kids camping for their first time. Sam is finally old enough that I won’t worry about him falling into the fire or running off somewhere (OK, I still will, but less so). We’ll also be sure to bring a few extra trash bags along with our s’mores, flashlights and bug spray to clean up the area before we leave.
It reminds me of the Golden Rule. Do to others as you want done to you. Leave a place how you’d like to find it. Take only what you need. Clean up after yourself. Be nice. How can you go wrong if you follow those simple (yet not so obvious) tenets?
P.S. Lee DeWyze has made it to the final round in American Idol- yay Lee! AND:
P.P.S. I would like to recognize another Mt. Prospector (or so I call us). Congratulations to Glenn Taylor on the release of his sophomore novel “The Marrowbone Marble Company”. He was a finalist for the 2008 National Book Critics Circle Award for his debut novel “The Ballad of Trenchmouth Taggart”. If you are a reader, you will really enjoy these. (He was even cool enough to come to our book club meeting for a visit too!)