Saturday, March 17, 2018

Jill camping

"Jill, the lone camper"
Jill's pose when confronting a bear

            I had no idea that a polar bear could smell a seal carcass buried a foot in the snow from 20 miles away. Did you know that? Unfortunately, that tidbit of info isn’t going to help Jill one bit. 

            I’ve being doing some research for my kid sister, because she’s about to go on a camping trip. By herself.  Jill likes to camp. I don’t know why. Just shocks the daylights out of me.

     Two weeks ago she went camping with Dennis and Al and their wives. Dennis and Al each have a camping trailer. Jill has a tent. One of those small, round things that practically pops up when you throw it on the ground. I saw a tent do that once on Youtube, but I’ve never seen Jill’s tent do that, because I’ve never gone camping with her. Don’t intend to.   

            When she visited last weekend I took her to Sam’s where she bought a two-room tent with a porch.  Got it for $150. Jill now has a bigger and better tent, but nobody to go camping with. I hate that, but not enough to go with her. So, I’m doing the second best thing. I’m going to teach her some surviving skills.

            There are a number of wild creatures one may encounter in the great outdoors. Some of ‘em are just as nice and cute as can be. Others? On average, three to five people are killed by wild animals in North America each year. Death by shark attack is included in that number. In Australia, half the population is bitten, clawed, swallowed or poisoned by creatures and plants each week.That’s a guesstimate based on the movies I’ve seen.

            I haven’t read about that many bear attacks in Australia. Aussies have discovered it's best to steer clear of the koala.  But, there have been some serious bear attacks here in the US of A.  The bear Jill would face would be a black bear. I think there are about three of ‘em left in East Texas. I just read up on what to do when confronted by a grizzly. I’m pretty sure the safety measures are similar to those one should apply when facing a black bear. Only difference being, the safety measures may actually work on a black bear.  

            Step 1: If Jill encounters a bear on the path between her and the campground’s restroom facility, she must stay calm. -- Example: Okay, I’m on this path because I had to wee. But, that was before I saw the bear. That situation has now become moot.

            Step 2: Evaluate the situation: The bear is just staring at me. It’s apparently taking time to do its own evaluation. At this point it’s time for Jill to introduce herself to the bear. She needs to speak calmly, so as to let the bear know that she is a human who holds no animosity toward any creature great or small. Caution – Don’t bother walking over to shake hands. (I threw that in just in case Jill tries to sue me after her bear introduction step.)

            Step 3: Begin walking away from the bear. Slowly!: Be sure to keep your eyes on the bear and on the path while exiting the area. The guy who wrote the bear book didn’t say anything about watching where you’re going. He’s going to get his pants sued off.  If I’m a bear, and I see someone trip, I immediately calculate the number of meals I can get out of the idiot who is thrashing around on the ground. I speak for most bears when I say that.

Joey Heatherton
            In truth, there are a number of things to fear while camping. I have done no research on encounters of the snake kind. I don’t like to look snakes. If I see a picture of a snake before bedtime, I’ll dream of snakes. That used to happen to me with Joey Heatherton.

            But, let’s forget snakes and bears and Joey. While doing my research, I discovered that wild animals are the least of one’s concern while camping. One thing I need to mention to Jill is the chance encounter of a vending machine near the showers or pavilion. On average, 3 people are killed by vending machines each year. (Seriously)

            I must also urge Jill to fight the urge to climb any trees around her campsite. In this country alone, 100 people die each year from falling out of trees. Seven hundred as a result of falling from ladders and scaffolding. Riding lawnmowers cause, on average, 95 deaths per year. Jill is to bring none of those things with her.
            Bottom line, in this wild and crazy world we have many concerns.  Christmas trees, bread clips, flip flops, umbrellas… each of these items have inflicted pain and death. If one were to explain how it’s possible for each of those to kill you, there would be thousands of deaths reported the next day. Most of ‘em in Missouri. (Show me State)

            No, we must at all times maintain our cool. That’s my advice to Jill. Regardless of the situation, she needs to stay calm while making an assessment. I’m not saying that’s what I’d do. But, then I’m not the one camping out i – If I get any news about Jill’s camping experience, I’ll pass it along.

n a tent! Criminee!

Mark can be contacted at An archive of Hayter’s articles can be found at