Campers and crafters might not seem to have a whole lot in common on the surface. Sure, there are some folks who are into both, but one is about roughing it in the wild—simple living without the luxuries and amenities of modern life—while the other tends to bring to mind Martha Stewart and all manner of frilly accoutrements.
In reality, camping and crafting have a great deal in common, both conceptually and in carrying their concepts out.
Self-Reliance is Key
Whether you're plugging along in the backcountry or making something from the pages of Town & Country, part of the pleasure in the process is knowing that it's all up to you. We live in a world where many of our needs are met by others—most of us don't grow our own food (and many of us don't even cook our own meals), few of us repair our own cars and computers, and we certainly don't make our own clothes or shelters.
Both camping and crafting call for a bit of ingenuity and a lot of self-reliance. One might be a little more directly related to survival skills, but both remind us that the world is built by people who can something with their own two hands other than dialing a phone or tapping away at a keyboard. They give us a chance to get back to the basics, and to experience or create something that is truly our own.
Some Assembly Required
Building something out of some basic materials—and sometimes making those basic materials, too—is the whole point of crafting, and camping requires no small-amount of hands-on effort, too. It goes hand-in-hand with self-reliance; you don't just need the confidence to do things yourself, you need the know-how and the capability to do things from the ground up.
Whether it's intricate decoupage or impromptu camouflage, building a fire or firing up a backyard kiln, crafting and camping both require you to roll your sleeves up and put your hands in. You can get all the best gear together, but you have to do know what to do it with it if it's going to do you any good.
The Right Tools for the Right Job
Speaking of gear…
Choosing the right materials and the right equipment is as important in crafting as it is in camping. Twine, cord, clips, tapes, and wires; natural and synthetic fabrics; tools for cutting and tools for taking accurate measurements—they all have their uses in the art of crafting and the art of living in the wild, and inferior supplies are bound to let you down.
They say it's a poor craftsman who blames his (or her!) tools, and there's some truth to it—knowing what you can use in a pinch is the mark of a true camper or expert crafter. But what you choose to work with when you have a selection available also says a lot about your skill, your experience, and your commitment to carrying things out the right way. Having the right things on hand is simple enough in most situations, so why not be prepared?
You might not find me doing a whole lot of basket weaving during a weekend survival exercise, but if you don't have an appreciation for the skill that goes into crafting—or the way crafts and camping complement each other—you're missing out.