Each year, as the winter begins to give way to spring, our bodies start to thaw out and we’re drawn to the outdoors.  The sun is shining, the sky’s grey gives way to blue, and folks that have been trapped indoors for months start emerging from their caves full of hot chocolate and Netflix subscriptions, intent on spending a little quality time with mother nature.  It’s camping season again, which means another year of answering the same questions about how your military experience must make you uniquely suited for the wild frontier that is your local state park’s fifteen dollar campsites.

See, decades of military movies about Rambo-looking guys strutting off into the deep jungle carrying nothing but a Kabar fighting knife and bandana to fend for themselves have left most people assuming that being the service is basically just one long wilderness survival exercise.  Every Soldier or Marine worth a damn must be well versed in animal trapping, building a fire, making shelter, and producing good, clean drinking water, right?

Wrong.  Camping has absolutely nothing to do with being in the field for most service members.

Okay, that’s not entirely true: both things take place outdoors, you’re usually sleeping on the ground, and at least one person in your party will almost certainly snore like a grizzly bear with a chainsaw in its mouth – but beyond that, there are very few similarities between a normal field exercise and a friendly camping trip.  In an effort to better explain this to my buddies that I’ll certainly be tenting up next to, I’ve compiled a short list of reasons why camping is not anything like my military experiences in the field.  Of course, that’s not to say that there aren’t lots of survival experts born in the service, it’s just not a part of the training for most folks in uniform.