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A long time ago, I was a child. (I started out as Cathy First from Colon, Mi.) For the past several years I’ve been an adult. A lot of things went on between those two stages of life; probably no more or no less than anyone elses. My husband and I moved to “da U .P” from southern Lower Michigan several years ago (yes we were trolls at one time). We owned and operated and operate Clementz’s Northcountry Campground and Cabins just north of Newberry, Michigan until May 2015. We have grown kids and grandkids (who all live downstate). My passion is life and all that Nature has to offer us and trying to photograph it in unique ways. Our intention in life is to see all that Nature has to offer us. We hope that you will be a part of our adventures as we cruise through our lives together. Come back often!

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

"I'M GONNA BUY A CAMPGROUND WHEN I RETIRE!"

Sometimes I don’t know whether to laugh or cry when guests tell me they want to own a campground WHEN THEY RETIRE. When prodded a bit further as to why they want to own a campground WHEN THEY RETIRE, the reasons vary, but usually the main reason is “So I can kick back and enjoy life.” HA!!! Ask any campground owner who gives two hoots about their park if they actually “kick back and enjoy life”.

Maggie Pike, owner of the Newberry KOA, was out for a quick visit the other day and if we each had a beer, we would have been crying in it! It isn’t just the economy and the price of gas that is literally kicking our collective behinds, but ya feel like you are beating a dead horse to keep up with all the maintenance and upkeep when there aren’t as many campers. You get tired of smiling and being polite at a certain point. And then there are the people who think all you do is set back and collect all that money! Like that money has no place to go but in your retirement fund! Any one that has ever been in business for themselves knows exactly what I’m talking about.

But there is the “fun side” of being a campground owner (although the last couple of years have been a test of exactly what FUN really is!). Yesterday, I had two of the cutest little boys and their mom come into the lobby. The oldest of the little guys had the tetherball in his hands. His big brown eyes were shining when he said “We were playing this and it just comed off! We didn’t do anything wrong, honest!!” And his little brother said “Yeah, we didn’t do it.” The mom never said anything during this but I said to the little guys “I know you didn’t do it. I can see that the rope broke and I am happy that you brought it to me so we can fix it.” The oldest little guy said “If ya gave us some tape, I bet we could fix it.” DON’T YOU LOVE THE FRANKNESS OF KIDS AND THEIR WILLINGNESS TO HELP?? These two little guys were so darn cute. I guess it was a case of ya had to be there. It doesn’t sound like much when I write it, but it was kind of a precious moment.

I think sometimes we forget about the “origins of camping” and how camping use to be. I realize that most of the campers we get are full timers; meaning their motor home, their coach, their RV IS their home so they DO want all the conveniences of home. But, I still think sometimes some of us “stray” from plain old camping.

Dan and I are still avid tent campers, but we remember our early days of camping and learning the proper way to pitch a tent. Actually the first time we did tent camp, we RENTED A TENT!!! And I knew by the time we finally got it set up WHY it is referred to as PITCHING a tent; that is exactly what I was ready to do. Plus I could have pitched a fit! IF we hadn’t had a supply of rope, we never would have gotten that thing up. There are a couple of things you should know before pitching a RENTED tent.

#1 The sun sets three-and-a-half times faster than normal when you're trying to set up camp.

#2 Tent stakes come only in the quantity "N-1" where N is the number of stakes necessary to stake down a tent. (Remember, this was a rented tent; an old fashioned canvas tent. Not one like we have now; ya throw it out and lo and behold! It sets itself up… see, we’ve learned over the years.). AND THERE WAS A DEFINITE ABSENCE OF TENT STAKES.

There IS a test that you can take to see if you qualify for SOLO CAMPING; shine a flashlight into one ear. If the beam shines out the other ear, do not go into the woods alone.

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