Ready for Easter camping?

Frequent campers and serious survivalists will tell you it only takes five items to comfortably camp out: a tarp, a hammock, some rope, a blanket and a knife.

Easter camping

Jerry Smith spends Easter weekends with family and friends on the beach in North Side where he’s chief cook on the caboose. Photo: Tammie C. Chisholm

Many frequent campers and survivalists are also at least a little crazy, so most Cayman campers should prepare much more thoroughly for their Easter camping excursions.

Like Boy Scouts, all campers should be prepared for any eventuality during a camping weekend, so one of the most important things to have is a hotel reservation.

That way if a late Nor’wester or early tropical front moves in to the area, you can do some moving of your own – right into the dry comfort of a hotel room, from where you’ll still feel like you did something for the Easter Holiday.

For those bold enough to take on the great outdoors, the hammock, tarp and rope used by survivalists do work nicely for creating a primitive ‘lean-to.’ This low-budget shelter solution also saves you from indefinitely storing a tent that will smell bad forever after its first use.

Finding a tarp is easy in Cayman these days – you can borrow one from half the roofs on the island – but hanging a tarp and hammock requires two trees from which to hang them, and after Hurricane Ivan, this can be a next to impossible task.

That leaves tents and the back of your pick-up truck in which to sleep, if the latter weren’t lost in Hurricane Ivan as well.

Tents can be fun, and will certainly give you the feeling of ‘roughing it’ on a camping trip, especially if you’re putting it up for the first time and don’t like reading instructions. If that is the case, campers should allow at least six hours of daylight to erect the tent and leave the knife at home to avoid any mishaps during the inevitable spontaneous fits of anger.

Despite Cayman’s warm spring nights, sleeping rolls or blankets are also a necessity on any camping trip, not necessarily as a way to stay warm, but as a way to protect yourself from the inevitable mosquitoes, sand fleas, ticks, flies, spiders, ants that will try to invade your personal space.

OFF! is another vital camping supply to keep the bugs away, but it doesn’t help things at all if you’re hoping to attract interest from the opposite sex during your camping trip

As for the knives, survivalists use them to cut rope, dig rain trenches, prepare food and kill prey for eating.

Survivalists also say pine cones are edible, cockroaches are good sources of protein, and snakes taste just like chicken.

With that in mind, it’s probably a good idea for Cayman’s campers to stop off at Foster’s Food Fair before starting a camping weekend.

There are several types of campers when it comes to eating. There are those who eat nothing but tins of sardines, bags of chips, beef jerky, or candy, and other non-perishable foods that don’t require any preparation.

These campers have it easy, but normally end up with digestive problems for a week after the camping is over.

Others like to bring charcoal grills, propane stoves and other methods for cooking so that camping food is as good -or bad – as the food at home.

What most people forget is that you can’t bring your dishwasher from home with you camping (unless you go camping with your domestic helper) and washing dishes in the outdoors is no fun at all.

Those camping near George Town have another option for food that avoids the hassle of preparation and clean-up and offers a wide variety of great tasting fare: They can pick up the cell phone and call Fine Dine-In, although the ‘in’ part is really ‘out’ for campers in this case.

Lighting is also very important in camping.

Some people will camp using their internal clocks, sleeping while it’s dark and staying awake while it’s light. This system works well when camping in North America in the summer time, when it doesn’t get dark until after 10 p.m. in some places. However, it would be seem very silly to go to bed at 6.30pm when it gets dark in the springtime in Cayman.

Therefore, things like candles, flashlights or lanterns are all needed to supplement the light of the obligatory campfire. And don’t forget the matches.

Bathing can also be a challenge while camping. Since it’s only for the Easter weekend, some will choose not to bathe, which is why one-man tents are a brilliant invention.

Some will bathe in the sea, some will use portable freshwater showers, and some will stand in the rain to bathe, if it does in fact rain.

If this all sounds familiar, it should.

At this point, everyone on Grand Cayman is an accomplished camper, having just experienced the unavoidable circumstances after Hurricane Ivan.

Those who actually want to do that so soon again, might find getting back to nature – on their own terms, and not Ivan’s – very therapeutic. If Ivan taught us anything, it is that nature is indomitable, and respect for it can only come from being out in it, not from the comforts of a plush hotel room.

Nature, however, does not provide room service, maid’s service or a Jacuzzi tub, and you might not find yourself ready to rough it again. That is why, this year, hotel reservations are essential to any Cayman camping checklist.