Get Out and Stay Out

Ever been paid to go camping? If you’ve read even one of my previous posts, you’ve probably put together that I’m outside every chance I get. This week, I was lucky enough to go on a one-night camping trip with my coworkers. When I was a kid, I always assumed that park rangers became park rangers because they were outdoorsy and loved wildlife and hiking just like me. I now realize that many people become park rangers because they love the history of a place: its early settlers, its indigenous peoples, and the towns that grew up nearby. Two of my coworkers fit this more people-oriented angle, and had never been camping before, and so would need training in order to run overnight programs with school groups later in the summer! Throughout the trip, we taught my coworkers to select a good campsite, set up a tent, use a water filter pump, and keep food safe from bears. But my favorite part was something that I unfortunately did not get any pictures of – learning to light a fire using a flint and striker. While the shower of sparks looked cool, it was incredibly difficult getting any of them to catch. It was fun to learn while camping in a group, but would have been extremely frustrating in any real survival situation. Never before have I so appreciated the gravity of the invention of matches. The coolest part of the trip was watching my coworker see elk for the first time. They came out in a herd in the evening – lots of females and one male, his budding antlers covered in velvet. They barked at us a few times before vanishing into the trees, leaving us to retreat back to our campfire.

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