It’s hard to imagine life outside of the Lovett School with its dependable electricity, conveniently located medical treatment, and luxurious flushing “poopers.” Unfortunately for us juniors, for five days, we will forgo these lofty comforts of home and live as our hominid ancestors did back in the day. Luckily for you, I, Paul Kim, will give you the do’s and don’ts of that outdoor place.
As a seasoned boy scout, I consider myself to be one of the foremost experts on all things natural and I hope to share these nature things with you so we can all become harder, better, faster, and stronger as the great philosopher Kanye suggests in his Daft Punk collab, Harder Better Faster.
Before you even step foot into the conglomeration of trees more commonly known as a forest, you need to know what to bring. Every good outdoor person knows to carry a certain list of items that I will list for you now: a map (doesn’t have to be of any specific region. It’s really there just to make you look like you know what you’re doing), a fake thumb (so you cut that off instead of your actual thumb when you whittle because you’re a pianist and you know better than that), a solar panel phone charger (just in case you need an extra battery to take generic nature photos for your Instagram), Leonardo DiCaprio (throw your Dicaprio at an attacking bear to confuse it. Use this time to run away), and a volleyball (so you can draw a face on it when you get stranded on a deserted island).
While these things are essential to backpacking, the most important thing you can bring is your appreciation for nature...and a backpack...that might also be useful on a backpacking trip. Most of those “trained professionals” at REI will give you a random backpack that will “repel water” or “not break apart when you move” but they don’t don’t know how to select the perfect pack for your back.
Only the X-treme (spelled with an X because they’re just that extreme) backpackers know that the best backpacks are actually the rolly backpacks with the handles. Not only are they compact and travel sized, but if you buy two extra wheels and carry them around, you can ride in your very own wagon backpack (wagpack). These particular wagpacks come in Mint Green, Burnt Salmon, and Charcoal Black. Personally, I prefer Traffic Cone Orange because it helps rescuers find you in the hypothetical situation in which you get stranded.
Once you acquire all the aforementioned items, you’re ready to take on the forest. In order to get an idea of the broad array of horrors that nature might offer, I was supposed to take some money out of the journalism budget and watch The Revenant. Unfortunately, my request was denied so I just watched a couple of bootlegs episodes of Man vs. Wild. However, this still provided me with some good information on how to survive in the wilderness. I learned that in order walk into the wilderness fully prepared, one must bring a full camera crew and a charming British accent.
While I could watch every TV show with some ruggedly attractive British dude and tell you what they said, informing you on JOE without having my own first-hand experience would be unprofessional so this reporter decided to go backpacking in the wilderness of his backyard and brought back some useful tips for the trail.
The first thing any Junior on an outdoor experience does at a campsite is build a fire. Some people prefer to bring matches, others prefer lighters. Some might even suggest that you rub two sticks together until something happens like Tom Hanks in Castaway, but I prefer to take a more passive role in firemaking by waiting for lightning to strike my campsite. Although it might seem like a bad way to start a fire, if it worked for the cavemen, it’ll work for me.
Once you have your campfire, you can start thinking about what you’re going to eat. While granola bars and beef jerky are commonplace among backpackers because they’re light and convenient, in my expert opinion, I take the high road and cook my food because roughing it doesn’t have to be rough. This is why I always bring a minimum of two packs of ramen whenever I go out.
The trouble with ramen is that 5-6 hours after you eat it, you’re definitely going to feel it. When that happens, bringing a shovel and a roll of toilet paper is your best option. However, when toilet paper isn’t available, your best bet is using the local flora. You might be tempted to grab any leaf around you but it’s imperative that you use the right one or leaf residue will bother you for the whole day and chafing can be disastrous. According to one outdoor blog, the best leaf to use is from a Wooly Mullein plant because it’s absorbent and it’s leaves are antiseptic. If you can’t find any, there are other things you can use. For example, (and I’m not making this up) in ancient cultures, smooth rocks were also used for clean up duty.
On that high note, I have every confidence that you have everything you need to survive JOE. All you need now is an epic soundtrack to enhance your outdoor experience. I recommend the entire soundtrack to Mulan but whatever floats your boat. Once you have that picked out, you’re ready to go into the wilderness for five days and never return again. Have fun!