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I hesitate, the older I get, to slap that label of ‘vert’ on anyone, but it’s what people understand most easily. Introvert 101 is clear: whether it’s the drain of being around too many people or a general dislike of others, they don’t enjoy crowds. I call us ‘quiet people’. But there are times when it shouldn’t be avoided, such as the eclipse! There’s another one coming, disdain shouldn’t keep anyone at home, just look for ways to minimize the drama.
A few tips for camping in what will be crowded conditions for other quiet people. Look for a privately owned campground with a website and good Travelocity rating. A list of rules with posted quiet times is vital. Call to ensure they are enforced, preferably with a patrol. A family campground is usually a good option-yes there will be 6-year-olds on bikes screaming past by 7 in the morning, but there won’t be drunk ninnies at 2 a.m. Day noise is less stressful. The best response the campground can give when asked how they deal with rule breakers is ‘expulsion’. Get the manager’s number before leaving the office after check-in.
Do not camp across from the bathhouse. It seems smart-shorter night hike, easier to keep an eye on a number of people to best time getting to shower without a wait. But at night, the inevitable security light is blinding. I guess this applies to non-introverts as well, perhaps part of tolerating strangers in quantity is the ability to withstand bright light. I wouldn’t know.
Here are a few random things that can help, which may be especially useful if you are not a quiet person, but your child or companion is. Bring a fan and earplugs for night, music and headphones or a book for keeping to yourself while being around others, a hammock to hole up at the site, an inner tube or another type of float to get some distance from the swimming area. Spray-on sunscreen allows one to avoid needing to be touched to stay safe from the sun because someone who can handle being touched in quiet situations may be overwhelmed on a crowded beach. A big towel can give the temporary illusion of space, so can an umbrella or sun tent-anything that can block sight lines and give some personal room. In water, a big tube gives some buffer. A blow-up boat might be tempting, but they are magnets for kids who will pester to be allowed to get in too!
Other ways to provide comfort could be bringing bedding from home, especially a pillow. Many quiet people have touch/sensory issues, so comfortable bedding is vital. The younger the camper, the more the adults will have to pull together to lessen the impact of a mass of strangers. If the event is not a nature show like leaves or an eclipse and is more of an outdoor theater or concert situation, have noise-canceling earplugs in case they are needed and muffling headphones like for use while mowing to lessen the noise in general. Arrive early with lots of snacks and drinks. Mark off a private space with a large blanket and pillows to create a barrier, bring busy work such as handwork or coloring sheets to focus on a small thing right there instead of the crowd at large. Plan to leave late after the crush of exiters and be aware of bathroom locations!
I have found that if we go to something my quiet family enjoys, like Shakespeare in the Park, it’s good to familiarize all of us with the plot and have lines to listen for or pick a character to follow along with. Knowing how much longer something will last is another vital bit of information for a quiet person. Be honest-if it’s going to be two more hours, it’s better to say that rather than ‘not long’ or ‘soon’.
Having a few ways to cope can make all the difference in the ability to join in and enjoy a new situation. Always get as much information as possible and arm your quiet people with the facts-how many people to expect, how long it will last, the possibility of disruptions to the plan. Have a next day plan to focus on as well, if things get overwhelming it’s a comfort to know that tomorrow the only thing planned is watching a DVD or the drive home, a campfire with marshmallows, or a long walk to a waterfall. It doesn’t have to be a big thing, just a digestible and comforting thing to have in mind.
So make plans, leave home, camp in a campground, attend a performance! It can happen!