Wednesday, November 08, 2006

The International Brotherhood (and Sisterhood) of Campers

Last weekend we went on a camping trip with a very international group of acquaintances. In total there were one Canadian (me), one Australian, one New Zealander, two Germans, two South Africans, and two French.

It struck me that camping and hiking are the sort of activities that cross international and cultural borders. They are something you can bring with you no matter where life takes you. You can immediately find people who share some of your joys and values all over the world.

In fact, one of the first things I did after moving to New Zealand was join a ‘Tramping Club’. (In New Zealand backpacking is called tramping.) I figured it was the best way for me to meet people in my new home who shared a common interest with me. Since I wasn’t working yet, there were very few ways for me to meet people, and this was a great solution. I wasn’t the only one who thought so. There are people from all over the world in the club. So many people are drawn to New Zealand because of its reputation for outdoor adventure, that it’s no surprise to find new Kiwis congregating in a club that organises those adventures.

I doubt very much that G and I would have found each other if it weren’t for our common interest in camping. It was what brought us together in the first place. I was looking for someone to camp with, and if it turned into a romance so much the better! He was looking for someone who shared his passion for the outdoors. The fact that we were from very different places and very different experiences growing up didn’t really matter too much. All three couples who were on our camping trip last weekend are mixed nationalities. G and I are South African/Canadian, B and C are French and South African, M and N are Kiwi and Australian.

One of my favourite things about camping is the fact that it crosses so many divisions. Whether they are nationalities, generations or races. We’re all the same when we hit the wilderness – all humble visitors.

International symposium on river crossing: