It is awesome being right next to Teton and Yellowstone National Parks. People travel from all over the world to see these areas and I get to make day trips whenever I want. I have spent countless days camping and numberless miles hiking all through these parks. Two things that I always try to grab when I head into one of the parks is a flannel and a ukulele.
Ukuleles are awesome travel companions. I play concert size ukes and have not had an issue with making room for one. A ukulele will always fit into the back of my crossover with all of my camping/hiking gear.
In the evenings I love to bust out the uke and play for 20-30 minutes. If I am in a public campground, which most of the time I am, I don’t get to play much beyond that amount of time. Usually someone will wander over to camp and want to check out what I am playing. I have met people from all over the world this way. Some I am able to speak with, others I can only communicate through the language of music.
When someone comes along that wants to chat, I spend the evening visiting and try to have dinner or an evening snack with them. We sit around the campfire and learn about each other and our cultures. This all started with that little four string wonder, the ukulele. They hear the music and want to come see where it is coming from. Music allows them to let down their barriers and have the chance to meet new people, even if they don’t think they can communicate with them. When people come over and we are not able to speak a common language, they listen and smile and enjoy the music. Sometimes I can play a song that they recognize and they light up even more.
I suggest you give it a try. Ukuleles make for fun evenings sitting around the campfire enjoying the common traits that we all share as humans, the need to eat, be loved and enjoy some good tunes.
There are a few things to keep in mind when taking your ukulele outdoors.
- Make sure it is safely secured in a case. I prefer hardshell cases. Heavy duty gig bags should work just as well.
- Keep away from the fire. Playing by the fire does not mean playing right next to the fire. The heat can damage your uke, especially if it is made of solid woods. Move back to a distance where your uke is safe.
- If it gets cold at night you will want to find a way to keep your ukuele cozy. If it is going to be very cold I do not take my uke. It stays home. But during the summer that is very rare. If it does get down in the 40’s, I will place my ukulele in the car with a blanket wrapped around it. That has always kept it perfect for me.
- If you live in an area with bears, buy bear spray. The ukulele is not an effective bear deterrent. You can try smashing the uke against a charging bears head but at best you will smash your ukulele thus ruining a fine instrument and at worst you end up smashing a fine instrument and getting eaten by a bear.
Hopefully this little guide helps you decide to start camping with a ukulele. Only positive things can happen if you make this choice and you make sure your uke is safe. You will meet new, interesting people. You will get to enjoy music under the stars (something that does not happen enough for most of us). You will bring more joy to your life and those around you. Just make sure you put the ukulele back in its case when quiet hours at the campground starts or a little before. If you do not follow this rule you will still meet lots of people, they will just want to feed you to a bear.
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