Blog topic written by Hannah Mann, staff writer at DeafandHoH.com
My family loves camping. We have gone camping at least once every summer since I was a baby—from modern RV’s to cabins to tents in the middle of the forest with a port-a-potty about fifty yards down the trail. My camping experience has been overwhelmingly with hearing family and friends, so I tend to rely on verbal or written communication in these settings. At first, I couldn’t think of any camping-specific situations where my hearing loss played a significant factor—at least, more than it did in everyday life. Then I thought about campfires…
Sitting around the fire at night can be relaxing for me if I tune out the conversation and just watch the flames, but understanding what everyone is talking or laughing about is next to impossible because of the low visibility. I have felt rather left out in the past because of this. However, I’ve found that fireplaces with tiki torches set around the place tend to help visibility much more, and like a moth, I will gravitate to the camp lantern, cabin light, or some other artificial light source.
Another experience I’ve had is stocking up on my cochlear implant batteries whenever we went to a place that had no electricity. I would try to conserve battery power by turning my CI off every chance I could. I don’t know how common that scenario is, though; it seems most people prefer sites with electricity and plumbing.
Do you enjoy camping? Share your experiences with camping as it pertains to your hearing loss at this Wednesday’s Open Chat Night. See you there!
Senthil invited me to post an article I wrote on the subject. Here it goes...
Camping Out With Hearing Loss
By: Liza Segleau, SDS, LMSW
I love nature and I want to enjoy it all I can. I remember back in 2003 when I was losing my hearing very quickly; I missed hearing the frogs and crickets at night. I wanted to be able to sit by a lake and be able to hear the fish jump once again. That all became possible once I received cochlear implants in 2007 and 2008.
But there were still some challenges. I knew at some point I wanted to go back to camping a few times a year. I was not sure what it would take to be able to reach that goal. One thing I knew for sure, that I was not much different from others with hearing loss. I knew that I also tended to not want to be without my hearing instruments too long. I never wanted to be without my hearing aids while alone, even less, to go outside and walk around without my hearing tools.
I came to the conclusion that I might have to take the plunge and work my way through not wearing my cochlear implants from time to time in order to bring down that area of tension. Hence, I began practicing. I would go out to get the mail without my cochlear implants. I would go out to toss the garbage. I would go on short walks without them. While home alone, I also spent time feeling comfortable being completely deaf.
Something gradually began to happen. I guess the predictable. Other senses began to kick in, such as my sight and a sense of “knowing things were O.K”. It took about a year for me to practice over and over and begin to feel comfortable in total silence.
Now, getting back to camping and hearing loss. I still had questions… What if I can’t find a camping partner and have to go it alone? What if I go with other campers, but I am in my tent alone at night? What if there is a storm? What if someone else needs help and I don’t hear them?
The moment and opportunity had arrived. I had enough vacation time to go camping. A friend did commit to going camping with me. I thought, fantastic, I can go camping and have a friend near by just in case. But, she got busy and then decided she would not be able to get there until the last 2 days of camp. I kind of felt a bit panicky, but I was in no position to back out. All was already paid for and scheduled. Onward I went.
It was not all that bad, really. The campgrounds had people here and there. So I was not really alone. This particular campground had good Rangers. They tended to come around every 30 to 45 minutes and check on the grounds and the campers…and for my friend? Well… I was not too happy, but I was determined to make the best of it. I spent Wednesday all the way through Sunday at camp. My friend finally arrived on Friday evening into Sunday morning. I bravely and for the first time spent camp alone on Wednesday, Thursday and all day Friday. I have to admit that I did not sleep very well on the first night alone at camp. But I rested and took a nap during the day on Thursday. I also kept myself busy practicing all my camping skills, like cooking, fixing the tent in case of high winds and went fishing until my heart was content. I did not catch anything, but perhaps next time.
Here are some recommendations I can give for those with hearing loss who would like to enjoy the outdoors once more…
* Before your great camping trip, practice being without your hearing tools
gradually until you are comfortable functioning and doing things in a silent
* Preferably, go camping with others.
* Try to find a good camping group that understands your needs.
* Go to campgrounds in which there is good coverage by Rangers.
* You could always use a cabin, if tenting it does not feel comfortable yet.
* Have plenty of good flashlights, seeing is important.
* Bring along a flashing signaler in case your camping buddies need to get your
attention from outside your tent or room at the cabin.
* Make sure you are attentive and aware of the weather conditions for each day
and the entire week.
* Always have a cell phone with you, texting others and reassuring them you are
doing well, is of great help for you and them.
* You could inform the Rangers that you are hearing impaired/deaf/have hearing
loss, so that they know to alert you in writing or by text of any changes in the
park, such as fire restrictions or weather issues.
* A dog-camping-companion is also great idea. Good for you and good for the
* Bring plenty of batteries for your hearing and seeing tools.
* Know the area where you will be camping and if there is a doctor or clinic near
* Enjoy, relax, feel proud that hearing loss is not robbing you of time and space
to enjoy nature once more.
Here are things I would NOT recommend, but each to her/his own. Only you know what is best and safe for you.
* Never go camping in isolated areas alone.
* Don’t go camping where there is the high potential for an encounter with a
challenging/dangerous wild animal, such as bears, wolves or crocks.
* Don’t sign up for camping with someone who probably won’t show up.
* Don’t attempt the camping trip if weather will be a big and possible dangerous
* Never camp without a backup to the backup such as first aid, batteries, extra
tools to reinforce your tent in case of manageable weather issues, cooking
* Never go camping without letting others know where you are going, what days
you will be out and when you are coming back, just common sense on this one.
* Never assume that the Rangers will be there to rescue you if something goes
wrong. Be prepared to get yourself out of a tight spot to the best of your
These two lists are not the end-all to camping with hearing loss. My list of “don’ts” seems to be short, which is good. But I am hoping that others will jump in and add some other ideas and improve the list.
I love camping and I don’t want my hearing loss to stop me from this wonderful experience. I certainly don’t want others to come to the conclusion that life is over with hearing loss and that they will never be able to camp again! This is so far from the truth! I camped, fished, interacted with other campers, kind Rangers and I have lived to tell my story!
Last edited by LizaAZ; 08-25-2012 at 01:18 AM.
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