Camping: the perfect excuse to snuggle down and enjoy the discomfort of others

15 October 2018

Camping: the perfect excuse to snuggle down and enjoy the discomfort of others

They say that you can’t take your possessions or issues with you when you do two things: die, and go camping.

Camping is an opportunity to leave the everyday behind and embrace nature, so there are certain guidelines to follow if you want to make happy memories. But the HBo series Camping (now streaming exclusively on Showmax) goes completely off the trail and over the cliff by ignoring these five getaway tips…

HBO's Camping is first and only on Showmax

Image: HBO

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1. Choose your company

Nobody wants to end up as the subject of a creepy campfire tale about the side-path serial killer, so we don’t camp alone. That said, good company is as essential as good shoes to a happy camping experience. Your companions will see you unwashed, damp and doing the walk of shame, ducking into the woods with a toilet roll, so they had better be nice people, not the kind of folk who’d creep up behind you with a poking branch to give you the tarantula terrors while you’re exposed and vulnerable. Alas, in Camping, prissy control freak Kathryn (Jennifer Garner) is running the show. After even an hour of being yelled at by Kathryn, we’d be tempted to pick up sticks and sneak off into the night – but not before smearing her tent with peanut butter and leaving her for the bears.

2. Take your gear, leave your baggage

Camping is meant to be a chance to get away from it all, not a wilderness ambush therapy venue that nobody can escape. Kathryn’s camping trip is just supposed to last the long weekend, but her guests have issues coming out their ears, none of which can honestly be dealt with in that time frame – from her sex-starved hubby Walt (David Tennant), to their overprotected son Orvis (Duncan Joiner), Kathryn’s timid sister Carleen (Ione Skye), Carleen’s alcoholic partner Joe (Chris Sullivan) and their sulky (uninvited) teen daughter Sol (Cheyenne Haynes), Walt’s brother George (Brett Gelman) and his partner, who is Kathryn’s ex-best friend Nina-Joy (Janicza Bravo), Walt’s recently separated old college buddy Miguel (Arturo Del Puerto) and his latest fling Jandice (Juliette Lewis), the random loon. And Kathryn hasn’t even unpacked before she’s unloading about her and Walt’s intimacy issues stemming from her surgeries (she’s so not into sex that she even refuses a delicious, campfire roasted weenie with a squeamish “ew”). Now is not the time. Lie in a hammock, stare at a snail, do whatever instead… and lots of it.

3. Let loose!

While you’re away from civilisation, it’s an opportunity to become the skinny-dipping, day-drinking, fun mammal you want to be! Scheduled group activities like fossil hunting stored in a minute-by-minute binder should only be brought out as a threat when everyone is drooping, bored and listless. Until that point, people should be allowed to make their own fun. Jandice has the right idea and the entire group perks up when she bounds into the lake for a swim – despite the fact that Kathryn has a tightly scheduled day of bird watching planned. Kathryn can only stand on the shore shouting about sunscreen, the fact that she’s a lifeguard and warnings about the peril of brain-eating, lake-dwelling amoebas.

4. Instagram? No, ma’am!

Leaving nothing but footprints and taking nothing but photos is one of the pleasures of a camping trip. Photos are a way of framing those golden memories. But posting photos of a private family outing on Instagram for the likes and to expand your #brand? Nah, it’s just a whole ball of anxiety you don’t need to take with you. Kathryn has an Insta about her chronic pain and life as a working mom, with 11 000 followers. “You have no idea what it’s like to be me! Do you even look at my Instagram? ‘Gratitude’ is my most frequently used hashtag,” she tells one poor listener. Yeah. That can stay home… especially when the group runs into some trendy LA-based influencers (including Busy Philipps) in episode 4 and Kathryn’s competitiveness and FOMO kick in.

5. Stop scaring the fish

Finally, episode 3’s tense and unpleasant fishing trip is a wonderful lesson in one of camping’s most important guidelines: let the room breathe and enjoy the world in silence for a while. Campfire chats are wonderful, but there is so much room for silence while you appreciate the great outdoors, so don’t be the mosquito in a fellow camper’s ear. Shhhh.

Camping is first and only on Showmax, with new episodes landing every Monday, fresh from the US.

Start watching now »

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