By Rebecca Forty | A few weeks ago I left my home in North Augusta and went camping for a week in Beaufort SC, on Hunting Island. I lost count of how many years we have gone there, but this trip is what I look forward to the most every year when summer rolls around.
I loaded up my SUV with everything I thought a happy camper might need, pitched my tent, set up an air conditioner, carried that heavy a/c unit; all of the stuff it takes to set up camp. I even did it on my own, only having to have a little help with my easy-up.
I really was on my own at the campsite. I fought off raccoons, tree frogs (it was an invasion of biblical proportions) mosquitoes, shoo’d deer, set up my hammock every morning in the palm trees at the beach, carried bags of ice to keep my Coca~Colas cold, walked more miles in one week than I thought possible.
Then I packed it all up and loaded it back in my car that looked like The Beverly Hillbillies’ truck.
Camping is not for the faint of heart. It is work. You work preparing for your trip. You work while you are there. You work on pack-up day. You work unpacking at home, cleaning everything, putting it all way and sometimes laundry for days.
But it’s worth every bit of work when you are lying in the hammock, Pat Conroy novel in hand with a cool breeze blowing off the ocean, falling asleep with the sound of waves hitting the surf and even watching the little crabs peeking out of their homes in the sand. But most importantly, it’s about being outdoors, in nature.
These are the moments when I feel closest to God. In the vastness of the Atlantic, in the majesty of a starlit sky, in the laughter of the kids riding by on their bicycles, in the details and colours of a shell, in the excitement of seeing a shooting star, in the smell of the saltwater marsh, in the taste of a perfect oyster on the half shell; or the wonder when a dolphin frolics in the waves.
Things I’ve observed during my many times at Hunting Island Campground:
Campers are the friendliest. When you go to a hotel, you rarely have a conversation with anyone but campers are a special breed of folk.
Bacon is a universal smell of love and invitation.
You can tell a lot about people by the state of their campsite.
Thunderstorms are far, far scarier in a tent.
Mosquitoes on the island are a special breed, like the raccoons, never taking a break from their ruthless and unrelenting pursuit of Man. Drinking a swig of vinegar does help ward off the skeeters.
You really can live without checking your cell every few minutes; in fact, leaving it sit all day while you live life is actually good for your soul. Camping brings out ingenuity and resourcefulness. Shout out to the Settlers and Pioneers. They accomplished an amazing feat.
The sound and sight of fighter jets doing a fly-by is truly awesome.
Always walk around before choosing the right spot to set up on the beach, the choice of music of the people next to you with the loudest speaker is everything.
Much time will be spent assessing a dark cloud and its trajectory.
And lastly, people always, always pack too much.
If you have never camped at the beach, it’s like being on Gilligan’s Island, without Ginger’s coconut creme pie. It’s like going to a tropical island but only a short few hour drive away from anywhere. I wouldn’t be surprised if I take up residence in the Lowcountry one day.
Highlight of the week at the campground; a little boy, probably 4 or 5, rode by on his bike and hollered to me, I mean really hollered, in his Southern accent with so much unbridled joy and enthusiasm that could only come from a child. He said, “Hey, I saw a tree frog and I caught ‘eem.”
That right there was worth it all.
Rebecca Forty is a frequent visitor to Hunting Island Campground from North Augusta, South Carolina and we’re very happy that she shared her thoughts and her vacation memories with us at ESPB.