Camping outside our comfort zone
Camping is one of the hottest hobbies in Korea. There are an estimated one million campers in Korea, and camping is a 30 billion won ($26.3 million) a year business. With the school summer vacation starting soon, the estimated 600 campsites around the country will surely be full.
However, some campsite operators unlawfully destroy the forest and fail to properly treat wastewater.
Camping equipment has evolved dramatically. Tents used to be erected by pounding in pegs and putting up poles. You spread a blanket and dug a drain. A shade blocked the sizzling sun and nighttime warmth was achieved by digging the site deeper.
The trendiest tent these days is not the A-shaped one or the dome-shaped model, but the living shell tent.
The charm of outdoor living comes from getting over the inconvenience of being a part of nature. A tent should be big enough to provide a place to sleep. If you want a living room, a dining table and chairs, why not bring the entire apartment?
Many older Koreans living in the city originally came from the countryside. However, their children are repulsed by squat toilets and scared of crickets. Grownups may feel nostalgic about living in nature, but their children experience a completely new world.
As long as safety is maintained, they’ll learn more if they experience maximum inconvenience.
German pedologist Joachim Mohr, in “What is the True Knowledge,” suggested that a 7-year-old needs to learn how to make and extinguish fire in the outdoors and make a snowman, sand castle and dam on a stream. A 7-year-old should have climbed up a tree and have fallen into a stream. A 7-year-old must know he can’t get everything he wants. It is just not healthy to fret about getting dirt on clothes or getting wet outdoors.
We need to let urban kids find out for themselves that nature is great, but not always kind.
They should learn that it takes effort to find food, cook, clean and pack. They should learn that it takes skills and experience to choose the best rock to sit on. They shouldn’t worry about getting a mosquito bite or sunburn. When they have to go pee and step out of the tent alone, they should know the eerie silence of the dark forest, hear the chirping birds and fear the unknown, emotions also felt by our ancestors.
That’s when children learn about the beauty of camping in nature. After all, camping is meant to be uncomfortable.
*The author is an editorial writer of the JoongAng Ilbo.
By Noh Jae-hyun