(A column, whereas, you the reader may ask questions about camping, cooking, hunting, fishing, and living in our Great Waynedale Outdoors.)
Q – Where can we go to enjoy primitive camping?
A – By primitive, you mean a campground that doesn’t have a dance floor, vending machines, showers, electricity, and peace & quiet? If you don’t know a farmer with a patch of woods where you can camp then my next suggestion would be a nice little campground just east of Mongo, Indiana about 40 miles north of Fort Wayne. It’s at a place called the Pigeon River Fish & Wildlife Area. There are 44 campsites equipped with a fire ring and a picnic table for each campsite plus they have a few water faucets and about 4 (wheelchair accessable) pit toilets. Other than a shooting range and an archery range there is nothing else there.
The cost is low (about $8 per night) and the campground is right next to the Mongo millpond where you can launch canoes and go down the river but you will have to portage around the Mongo Dam, the Nysby Dam, and the Ontario Dam. Get a free map of the area when you check in at the big barn near the entrance of the campground. It’s my favorite place to camp.
Q – I’ve never been camping before; how can I get started?
A – Start in your own backyard. Borrow a tent, set it up, and stay in it overnight. For a campfire, use a small charcoal grill – roast marshmallows, cook hotdogs, and sing songs that everyone knows. Bring everything outside that you think you will need and limit your trips back to the house except for the obvious reason – potty breaks. If you survive the night without wimping out and running back inside the house, then continue from there. Leave your laptops, cell phones, and all other electronic gadgets in the house.
Next, try joining a Boy Scout troop and go camping with them (even if you’re an adult) until you think you’re brave enough to go out on your own and do what those 11–18 year-old boys do at least one weekend every month – rain, hail, sun, sleet, or snow.
Q – How do I go potty in the woods?
A – You’ve touched on a subject that needs to be reckoned with by everyone that goes into the woods at one time or another and it really isn’t something you should joke about although I could tell you some funny stories . . . !
Read about this subject in any Boy Scout handbook to start with and if you want to know more details then check your local library, the Internet, or at a store called Earth Adventures Unlimited at 1804 Main Street in Fort Wayne for a book titled, How To S - - T In the Woods (no kidding; this is the title except my editors said to leave out a couple of letters; that you would get the idea.) The author is Kathleen Meyer and the price is $7.95.
My dad’s advice was, “Never go into the woods for any reason without toilet paper, matches, and a knife – in that order.” My mom always added, “. . . and a sweater.”