Thursday, June 02, 2011

Jedem das Seine

AUSCHWITZ-CONCENTRATIEKAMPWhen I think of camping, I think of minimalist travel. Backpacking or motorcycle travel. Sleeping in a tent. That kind of stuff.

But you don’t have to spend much time on Google to discover a lot of people have a looser definition that embraces renting KOA Kamper Kabins (austere bunkhouses for the price of a motel room) or even motor home travel with a car in tow.

A woman whose blog I visit occasionally is, with her husband, a devotee of motor home “camping.” In their case, it’s a 36-foot 10 mpg diesel powered motor coach, dragging a VW beetle behind it.

They’re currently ensconced in a remote Army Corps of Engineers campground near the Pennsylvania-New York border, where they signed on as “work campers,” that is they work the gatehouse and do other campground labor – four days on and four days off - to park and use the facilities free. They’ve signed on to stay there through the summer, although they’ve been forced to flee because of flooding and the area was recently raked by tornados.

I have other friends who have done work camping, but when I hear “work” and “camp” in the same sentence, I think of the slogan “Arbeit Macht Frei” (Work Makes You Free) over the front gate of the Auschwitz concentration camp.

Being tethered to a campsite and a job all summer sounds like a cruel joke to me and calls to mind the gate sign at the Buchenwald concentration camp: “Jedem das Seine”

Literally, it means “to each, his own,” but colloquially it translates to “you get what you deserve.”

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