A few years ago we were showing some of our camping photos to my family when my uncle asked “Doesn’t it scare you to be out in the middle of nowhere like that?”. We smiled and said “no”. My cousin followed up with “What about all the crazy people, haven’t you seen the Hills Have Eyes?”. We laughed. But we’ve been asked this question on more than one occasion so I thought I’d share our thoughts…
I should start by saying, in my opinion, safety and security is more of a feeling we get than anything else. I don’t know for certain that I’m more safe in a house than at camp or vice versa but feeling as though we’re safe is a good start.
We have never felt unsafe at camp. I’d say the possibility of a bear or mountain lion encounter is the only thing that has ever put us on high alert. However, taking the proper wildlife precautions at camp can help lower that risk. In terms of people, we have yet to come across any creepers. We’ve camped within earshot of a couple that spent the evening screaming at each other, there have been a handful of times that random people have strolled up on our camp (usually lost or asking questions about the area) and we’ve passed by one naked guy doing laundry outside his RV in the middle of the woods. That’s all the weird I can come up with and we never once felt threatened.
I believe the key is to pay attention to your gut and always be aware of your surroundings. If a place feels creepy, leave. If you just have a bad feeling, leave. Don’t wait to find out why you have a bad feeling. Trust your instincts and move on. We’ve done this on a couple of occasions. I can’t put in to words exactly why it didn’t feel right, but that is all we needed to move on. Better to be safe than sorry.
Generally speaking though, people camp to relax and get away from it all. Or…what some might view as a creeper is really some guy living out of his van because he’s fed up with conformity and has chosen to live a simple albeit different life. We typically all have one thing in common though…we love the great outdoors and are typically pretty peaceful people.
The most scared I’ve ever been at camp has come from the voices in my own head. For instance, they’ve fooled me in to believing someone was stalking our camp in the middle of the night when really it was the breeze causing our tarp to slightly ripple in the wind. This was back when we first started camping and now I feel ridiculous for ever being concerned.
For us, the only difference in the security we feel in a house vs. the security we feel at camp is that we sometimes feel more vulnerable at camp. Inside a house, someone can’t just drive in to your living room. They pull up in your driveway and you know they’re about to come to your front door. At camp, you could go from not seeing a soul, to some random couple on their ATV pulling right in to your living space. Whether it’s a baseball bat, a bottle of mace, your mad tae-kwon-do skills, a mag light or a gun, some form of protection can help bring an added sense of security when camping. But no matter what your preferred method of protection, make sure you know how to use it otherwise you’re just a danger to yourself and those around you.
The more you camp the more comfortable it becomes. The more it’s just like being at home. Really, hurting yourself is the real danger. When camping, if I had to choose between one form of protection and a first-aid kit, I’d choose the first aid kit, no question.
My uncle that asked us about being scared when we camp, lives in LA, surrounded by millions of people. Yet, he feels perfectly safe at home, just as I feel perfectly safe at camp. I think it’s more about being afraid of the unknown and stepping outside our comfort zone. You know that saying “Do something everyday that scares you.”? It’s a great rule to live by because you’re most likely to discover what you initially thought would be frightening, wasn’t really that scary at all and the reward was far greater than you ever could have imagined.
With that, I say, stop worrying. Get outside and enjoy life!