Thursday, August 12, 2021


By Kathy Kovach

Oh, the joys of summer! If you’re like 80 million Americans, you probably left your comfortable home for a few days and took off for the Great Outdoors. Whether roughing it in a tent or glamping in an RV, people have been intrigued by nature as a recreational pastime since 1869.

According to Terence Young, the author of Heading Out: A History of American Camping, the word “camp” was most likely inspired by military encampments.

Prior to the thought of going into the wild just because, those who camped did so for their jobs, such as military, or traveling from one part of the country to another. This changed when a minister from Connecticut decided to experience the Adirondacks in upstate New York up close and personal. William H. H. Murray, highly respected in his field, wrote “narrative exercises” for his own use. Often, clergy wrote out their thoughts in this way as training to improve their sermons. These narratives were initially only for his personal use.

William H. H. Murray
Clergyman and father of the Outdoor Movement

After five years of collecting notes, a friend in the publishing industry persuaded him to submit them. Skeptical, Murry didn’t expect anything to come from it. The publisher was equally doubtful. However, after only two days, he contacted Murray with an offer. He found the minister’s casual writing style endearing. Thus, his book, Camping in the Wilderness: Or Camp-Life in the Adirondacks was born. It’s still available at Amazon.

Murray covered everything, including where to go, how to get there, and what to eat. One of his tips concerned naturalists when he suggested the way to fend off wolves was to set a stump on fire. The table of contents is entertaining in and of itself. Chapter II: The Nameless Creek. Chapter V: Loon Shooting in a Thunder Storm. Chapter XI: A Ride With a Mad Horse in a Freight Car. Yeah, I bought it.

The minister’s amazing and simple notebook of narrative exercises opened a population boom in the “wilderness.” Around 200 hotels sprang up in the Adirondacks by 1875. By the turn of century, the Adirondacks summer population rose from 3000 in 1869 when the book hit the presses to 25,000 thirty years later.

Loon Lake House Saranac Lake

However, there was at least one draw-back. That first summer boasted heavy rains in upstate New York. Some of the eager nouveau campers came back wet and angry, claiming the information given didn’t cover that aspect of camping. This didn’t deter the subsequent stampede of tourists between 1869 and 1870 who were dubbed “Murray’s Rush.” Those who came back disillusioned or with injuries were called “Murray’s Fools.”

My family has done our share of camping. Starting in a tent and evolving to pop-ups, eventually moving on to the glamper I call Big Bertha. To think it’s only been a century and a half since this movement began is surprising to me. Nature has been around for thousands of years, and we’ve only just begun to scratch the surface of finding ways to enjoy it. So go! Sleep under the stars. Make S’Mores. Cast a fishing line and give God the glory for His wonderful creation.

Big Bertha

In my story, Periwinkle in the Park, the heroine, Peri, is a naturalist. Camping was already invented by the time Rocky Mountain National Park was established in 1915, and Peri helps to educate those who wish to learn more about the Great Outdoors.

A Bouquet of Brides Collection
Available in paperback only.
Meet seven American women who were named for various flowers but struggle to bloom where God planted them. Can love help them grow to their full potential?

"Periwinkle in the Park" by Kathleen Kovach
1910, Colorado
Periwinkle Winfield is a hiking guide helping to commission a national park. But a run-in with a mountain man who is determined to keep the government off his land may place her in great danger.
Kathleen E. Kovach is a Christian romance author published traditionally through Barbour Publishing, Inc. as well as indie. Kathleen and her husband, Jim, raised two sons while living the nomadic lifestyle for over twenty years in the Air Force. Now planted in northeast Colorado, she's a grandmother, though much too young for that. Kathleen is a longstanding member of American Christian Fiction Writers. An award-winning author, she presents spiritual truths with a giggle, proving herself as one of God's peculiar people.


  1. Thanks for the post! When our children were school-age we did a few camping trips with tents. My husband's claim to fame is that if he sets up a tent it.will.rain. Or downpour. Little rivulets under the tent floor. He was going to offer to sell our last tent to a drought-stricken land for surely if they set it up the rain would come. Needless to say, we don't camp any more. Give us an approximation of real beds, please. I did think the book you found was pretty neat. Nowadays don't you think that would end up being a self-publish thing? But that's for a different subject. Let's go back and talk about s'mores! The best thing about camping!!!

  2. Too funny. We did our share of rain camping in tents. Mostly in Germany. You're right, the book would probably be self-published today, unless one of the outdoors publishers picked it up. S'Mores! I like mine with Nutella, but that makes it rather messy.