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The Blue & Gray Press | February 18, 2018

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Camping at Virgin Islands Teaches New Lessons

When I tell people how I spent my spring break this year, most people roll their eyes despite my attempt to explain the educational value of my trip. Although I spent my break in the U.S. Virgin Islands, I was a true wilderness woman for seven days and nights. Instead of boring you talking about my hiking trips and snorkeling adventures, I decided it would be more useful to share lessons I learned on how to make your camping experience a success.

Bring good company. The most important variable of your trip will be the people with whom you go. Travel with people you enjoy or can at least stand being around at all hours of the day and night. You will get to know them very quickly and the concept of personal space will be lost as soon as you realize you forgot a toothbrush and have to use a tent mate’s until you find the nearest convenience store, which may or may not happen.

Make your own fun. No matter what exciting events you have planned during your trip, you must be able to make the most of the downtime. Bringing a boom box is a good idea, so you can be entertained by the one girl in your group that volunteers to teach everyone how to “dougie.” If you’re caught without a music machine, you’ll have to settle for “Kumbaya” by the fire which probably won’t be as pleasing to the ears nor will it make as good of a Facebook video.

Don’t sacrifice your appetite. I like to eat as much as the next person, but I would never attempt to cook native foods without prior experience. I understand wanting to immerse yourself in the culture and embrace nature, but spare whatever little critter you caught in the woods and order the island special at the campground restaurant instead. I guarantee the fried, prepared version will be much more delicious not to mention, guilt-free.

It pays to be friendly. When camping on an island or in a foreign area, be nice to the locals. You will likely need their help or assistance with directions at least once during your stay and remaining on good terms can only work toward your advantage.

Never be afraid to pee outside. This might sound disgusting, but walking to the bathroom at 4 a.m. in the dark is not exactly my cup of tea. Forget being proper. Grab the TP and head out back; modesty doesn’t exist in the woods.

Leave your beauty products at home. Girls, in particular, like to look their best. However, camping is not a time to touch up your eyeliner and glob on the lip-gloss. There is a mutual understanding that hat hair and bed head are to be expected and make-up is relatively non-existent. Keep your suitcase lighter by leaving your vanity at home.

If nothing else, I’ve learned that you don’t fully appreciate the hot showers, the home-cooked meals and the warm beds until you’ve roughed it in the woods. While the trip made me no less of a girly girl when it comes to my hair, I do take pride in knowing that I can make it without my beloved electric rollers and I can survive without taking a bubble bath—at least until I return to civilization.