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Originally published August 30, 2007 at 12:00 AM | Page modified August 30, 2007 at 2:02 AM


Trail Mix | Ron Judd

Sign me up as a Montana "camping butler"

I've seen all the free publicity you're getting these days as reporters for various newspapers, magazines and travel magazines schlep out to Montan-ee to experience "glamour camping," or "glamping," as some genius somewhere chose to label it.

Seattle Times staff columnist

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To: The Resort at Paws Up, Greenough, Mont.

From: Ron Judd

Re: Future "Camping Butler" employment opportunities

Dear Sir or Madam:

You really oughta hire me.

I've seen all the free publicity you're getting these days as reporters for various newspapers, magazines and travel magazines schlep out to Montan-ee to experience "glamour camping," or "glamping," as some genius somewhere chose to label it.

I get the idea: You cater to Americans who are richer, dumber and, more important, lazier than they ever have been. You charge them 600 bucks and up per night to put them up in frame tents with king-size beds, fine imported linens, electricity and phones, deluxe chef-prepared meals — and even their own "camping butler."

That'd be me.

The camping butler's job, from what I can tell, is to cater to the every need of his assigned glampers — anything from turning down the beds at night to driving a herd of elk through the campsite for up-close digital photo opportunities. He is expected to employ any means necessary to make people comfortable as they immerse themselves, sort of, in the outdoors.

I'm your man.

My qualifications are numerous. I've been a camper since I was an infant, and have spent many nights sleeping on the ground, often with Volkswagen-size boulders and/or medium-size streams directly beneath my back. I've been hounded nearly to death by mosquitoes, kicked by blacktail deer, licked by mountain goats, chased by marmots, slimed by slugs, menaced by cougars, scared witless by grizzly bears, and harangued by a roving pack of foul-mannered dachshunds.

I've been ticketed for parking on the grass; I've made campground reservations that vanished into the ether and, while standing naked in a finely constructed blue-tarp Solar Shower stall, been dressed down by a female national park ranger.


In short: I have the kind of outdoor character you can only get by having a sudden attack of the "freeze-dried trots" after zipping yourself inside a mummy bag on a subzero night out in the snow.

I've slept in a tent which, during a sudden, furious gale in Alaska, actually lifted off the ground for a brief time, with me in it. I've built hundreds of wind breaks, all of which, living up to their name, when the wind came up, broke. I've lit my rainfly on fire and spent what I estimate equals about a month of my life — a month I will never get back — holding my breath in various outhouses.

My point: I've seen the other side, folks. Hell, I am the other side.

So, you should bring me on staff. Camping butler, that's me.

I'll wear a fringy leather jacket, a coonskin cap and elk-hide moccasins. I'll regale little whiny rich kids with tales of near-death experiences they'll never face, such as the time I spent a week in the Canadian Rockies without my iPod. Around the campfire at night, I'll tell their parents how Lewis and Clark came through the same part of the country 200 years ago, encountering unspeakably horrible obstacles such as impassable waterfalls, ornery natives and worse yet, a dearth of Wi-Fi hot spots.

I'll show them how to make s'mores without an appliance from Williams-Sonoma and show them a cast-iron skillet without the name "Emeril" branded into the bottom.

I'll take them on a day hike along a creek I have previously rerouted to move the waterfalls closer together. It's all part of my overriding philosophy: Everyone deserves access to the great outdoors. Even if you have to amend it a tad to let them do it without experiencing the trauma of moleskin.

Feel free to contact my references: The Old Man, Gale and Brute Force and others. They'll all vouch for my love of all fellow humanity and my profound appreciation for a clawfoot tub in the backcountry — not necessarily in that order.

Note that they'll probably try to pass on some whimsical tales about my "darker" side, and my propensity to do hilarious things such as, while camping in an area bears are known to frequent, smearing bacon grease around the door of tents — and throughout the personal belongings — of people who have offended me in some way.

Youthful indiscretion. Rest assured I'm beyond all that and ready to move, along with you, to the next rung of camping's evolutionary scale.

In short: I'm ready to walk upright — and sleep under the stars in 1,000-thread-count sheets.



(A role model just waiting to happen.)

Ron Judd's Trail Mix column appears here every Thursday.

To contact him: 206-464-8280 or

Copyright © 2007 The Seattle Times Company

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About Trail Mix | Ron Judd
Ron Judd's "Trail Mix" column, which appears Thursdays in Northwest Weekend, focuses on the Northwest great outdoors -- with just the right amount of real life thrown in for good measure. | 206-464-8280

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