The headline in the NEW YORK TIMES said: The Rise of the Stressed-Out Urban Camper. It included this byline - New Yorkers are increasingly desperate to get back to nature. And if that means “glamping” at a $650-a-night campsite inside the city limits — well, it’s a start.
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Apparently, there’s a new fad called “glamping.” Or, sometimes it’s referred to as “wimping.” Camping without the “campy-ness.” According to the article, “2.6 million more American households camped last year than in 2016. A major reason was to relieve stress. Nearly all Millennials surveyed (93 percent) said they would like to try camping, this year, many gravitating toward glamping.” 1
But what exactly is “glamping?”
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Opening weekend for the “glampers,” on Governor’s Island in New York, was this past July 4th weekend. “The views are fantastic,” said Damon Willmott, a Park Sloper who had booked two tents for his family of four. “It’s great somebody’s done this in New York.” The Willmotts go camping often, but driving outside the city and packing up all that gear adds a level of difficulty and stress. After the eight-minute ferry ride to their campsite, they simply plopped down their bags, turned off their phones and played a game of Scrabble. Mr. Willmott smiled and nodded. “It felt good to disconnect.”2
“Joining the Willmotts at Collective Retreats on the island’s south end were scores of other campers in 37 tents ranging in price from $220 to $650 ($75 tents are available on Tuesday nights, and some tents go for as much as $850, depending on demand). Some were roasting marshmallows in the fire pit, some eating $120 prix fixe meals in the permanent Three Peaks lodge; others played beanbag toss.” 3
A tent for $650 a night? Seriously? You can spend the night at the Ritz Carlton in New York, adjacent to Central Park for that.
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The article continued, “Setting up camp on the edges of the city itself or just outside its limits, New Yorkers are seeking a way out. Looking to escape their screens, traffic, messed-up subways, their bosses, and national politics, many are finding solace in a nearby tent or cabin.” 4
A number of companies have sprung up in the New York area to help accommodate this new trend. One of them called Tentrr has it down to a science and has created a “turn key” experience (except you don’t need a key for a tent) for people who want to have the camping experience without having to bring or buy all the camping paraphernalia it normally takes. They provide individual campsites with tents on a raised platform. You sleep on a memory foam mattress, have a Brazilian hardwood table, benches and a box to store your stuff. They also provide a community toilet for all the campers, a fire pit and a sun shower. In other words, outdoor bathing where your water is warmed by the sun. Overcast, rainy days? Cold showers coming. They also have customer service available 24/7. The cost? Only $144 a night. Sounds like Red Roof Inn without the red roof.
Genuine, sustainable contentment isn’t found in a place. Whether it’s the Ritz Carlton, Red Roof Inn, or “glamping” on an island in a tent you rent for an arm and a leg.
One of the more upscale glamping experiences is called Collective Governors Island. They offer a king bed or two single beds (a rollaway bed can be added upon request at an additional cost of $100). 1,500 thread-count linens, down comforter, and designer-curated blanket. Electricity and ample bedside sockets to charge devices. A private, en suite bathroom with rain-style shower, full flush toilet, and hot running water. All that for only $530 a night or $1,240 for two nights and that’s before taxes. For that much money, I’d rather stay at the Ritz Carlton.
What’s driving all this? The article suggested stress, coupled with a desire to get back to nature. They referenced a recent study from Finland that said walking as little as 20 minutes in the woods helped reduce stress and “forest bathing” (whatever that is), a Japanese phenomenon has been credited with reducing stress as well. At $530 or $650 a night, wouldn’t a therapist be cheaper?
The Apostle Paul, a tentmaker by trade, wrote in Philippians 4:11, “Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content.” He didn’t write that from the Ritz Carlton or a tent on a raised platform with 1,500 thread-count linens, community toilet and a fire pit. He wrote it from the Mammertine Prison in ancient Rome.
In case you’re tempted to say he couldn’t possibly have faced the stress people face today, you should read his testimony in 2 Corinthians 11:23-28. He was beaten, put in prison, whipped and flogged, stoned, shipwrecked three times, spent a night in the open seas, faced robbers, peril from fellow countrymen, perils from the Gentiles, perils in the city, perils in the wilderness, perils in the open seas, and perils from false brethren. He faced weariness and worked hard, often went without sleep, went hungry and thirsty, fasted regularly, suffered in the cold, experienced nakedness and lived with the ongoing concern of the churches he helped start.
Yet Paul said he had learned “to be content.” How is that possible?
Genuine, sustainable contentment isn’t found in a place — whether it’s the Ritz Carlton, Red Roof Inn, or “glamping” on an island in a tent you rent for an arm and a leg. It’s found in a Person. Paul told us who that is with this statement in Philippians 4:13:
“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”
© 2018. Barry L. Cameron
1 Stapinski, Helene, and Ramsay De Give. “The Rise of the Stressed-Out Urban Camper.” The New York Times, The New York Times, 6 July 2018, www.nytimes.com/2018/07/06/nyregion/the-rise-of-the-stressed-out-urban-camper.html.
Barry L. Cameron has been the Senior Pastor of Crossroads since 1992 when the church was averaging 188 in morning worship. Pastor Cameron and his wife, Janis, have three children and two grandsons. He’s the author of the bestseller: The ABCs of Financial Freedom, Contagious Generosity, and The Financial Freedom Workbook. The Cameron family has been completely debt free since November 2001.