Q: Where are you?
A: From yesterday after work until tomorrow afternoon, I will be at the Annual Men’s Campout for my local congregation, which is being held this year in the Corvallis area, which I have never had any reason to visit before, so I cannot say much about it except that from photos it appears to be in open farmland.
Q: Are you really camping?k
A: Yes, in a borrowed sleeping bag in a borrowed tent, to boot.
Q: Do you like camping? You don’t strike me as the type.
A: I do like camping, in fact, although I have to admit it is not something I grew up doing. The first time I went camping was with friends (the same friends who first took me skiing, but that’s another story) as a college student. Although I ended up burning through my shoes on the erev Shabbat (that is to say, Friday evening) fire that we had prepared before the Sabbath, it was an enjoyable experience, with good fellowship and plenty of steak. I have only camped a couple of times, with last year’s Oregon Men’s Campout being the second time ever , but it is something I could stand to do more of to get more comfortable with. Interestingly enough, although I did not grow up camping as a kid, I did have plenty of experience in sleeping in buses as well as in the passenger seat at rest stops during car trips. While I’m not an experienced camper, I do have plenty of experience “roughing it.”
Q: Why are you at a men’s campout in the first place? I only ever see you hang out with girls.
A: Although I greatly enjoy the company of ladies (which all who know me are likely to witness on a regular basis), I generally like to support activities that lead to greater bonding and fellowship in general. Like with Spokesmen’s club, I think it is worthwhile to build up friendships with other men as well as enjoy occasional time spent without the company of women, if only to appreciate more those ladies I do enjoy spending time with when I have the chance to do so.
Q: I heard the men’s campout was really emotional, and not very manly. What do you have to say about that?
A: I don’t know how much more manly you can get than sleeping in tents and sleeping bags in the countryside for a couple of days, eating steaks (and other meat) off of a fire, and encouraging and challenging other men. This isn’t the Vagina Monologues here or some kind of weepy support group. Aside from the enjoyment of sports films and lots of meat, there are usually honest conversations about struggles that men have to face (there was one last year about pornography, for example), and in the question and answer session there are often some pretty tough comments that are made (a particularly loud and outspoken fellow, I won’t mention who it was, was unhappy about not feeling involved in the local congregation because of some personal drama, and for bringing it up he was invited to speak in Eureka (although he can never make it there), and was the only male Sabbath School teacher in his local congregation this past year). It’s not holding hands and singing “Kumbaya,” but rather a place for men to wrestle with what it means to be a man, and to encourage others and be encouraged in turn. You don’t think women are the only people who enjoy honest and open communication with others, do you?
Q: Isn’t it lonely to spend all weekend without being around any girls?
A: It’s not much lonelier than my normal life in that respect, church aside. Truth be told, I live a pretty lonely life, but that’s another story.
Q: When did you write these questions?
A: I prepared them before I left so that I could have a blog entry even while I am away from civilization for the weekend.
Q: How do you know people are thinking about these things?
A: Did you know I can sometimes read minds? Seriously, many of these questions have been brought up before about last year’s event or about me either to me personally or to others who I have spoken with. So, I’m cheating a little, I suppose.
Q: Why do you think guys associate being manly with eating meat and being out in the wilderness anyway?
A: There are other people who are more qualified to speak about manliness, I suppose , but John Eldridge writes in his book Wild At Heart that men are most at home in the wilderness, and so finding that space outside of domestic affairs is a way to be genuinely masculine in a world that does not seem to appreciate godly masculinity. There are plenty of issues I would take about some aspects of his thesis, but at least the basic gist that mankind in general has and needs some space and time to be a bit wild is, in my opinion, spot on. Being a man is more than about eating meat (although I enjoy eating meat, even if it’s something I have to be careful about because of my gout problems ), but for cultural and social reasons there are at least a few acceptable realms where men can be men in the company of other men. The wilderness is one of those areas, along with anything involving the military, sports, hunting, math clubs or engineering school (no joke, although women are at least starting to study such fields in large numbers these days), or other related activities. Come to think of it, a great deal of my academic and personal interests have involved these matters, which means I’m probably more manly than some of those who are afraid to join me in the wilderness this weekend, I suppose.
Q: What do you plan on doing when you return from the campout tomorrow?
A: Taking a shower, doing my errands (grocery shopping, laundry), doing my usual reading and writing and online coursework, and catching up with those friends I missed seeing (at least those I am allowed to talk to).
 You can read about that here:
 I am, after all, an unabashed fan of Jane Austen and A Little Princess, and some people might doubt my credentials in terms of being a real man’s man. See, for example:
 See, for example: