Thursday, April 1, 2021

Life is all about Bandwidth!

Being an old electronics teacher I’m very familiar with the term “bandwidth” in a technical sense from teaching radio theory. Anecdotally, the term is used ‘technically’ in reference to creating or selecting a single transmitted signal from many. In effect it has to do with getting just one radio station or TV channel from the many that are being transmitted simultaneously. Interestingly you don’t just tune in one frequency, you actually tune in a narrow ‘band’ of frequencies. 

In an everyday usage, for most people bandwidth refers to just having the time to do the things you need and want to do. However, I think of bandwidth as being a little more than just enough time because to me it also implies there is some skill level involved. This makes sense because skill is mostly the ability to do something well and in the most efficient way. Therefore, a skilled worker uses minimum bandwidth to do a given job.

So all those things I ‘must do’ everyday effect how much bandwidth I have available for what I ‘want to do’. In other words if one is efficient and thus can do the ‘work’ things quickly then there is more time for the ‘fun’ things. 

When camping you typically have a finite amount of time to do an often numerous amount of things. Thus, we develop systems and routines to create a natural consistent work flow for doing these things from one time to the next. 

As mentioned in my How to Design, Build and Outfit Your Own Camp Kitchen book, fifteen minutes is my ‘get it done’ goal. Fifteen minutes to load the gear, fifteen minutes to unload and setup camp, fifteen minutes to breakdown and load gear and fifteen minutes to put it all away at home. 

So if I meet my fifteen minute goals I still end up devoting an entire hour of bandwidth to the ‘work part’ of the camping routine for most trips. Obviously, if you want to camp a lot, say at least once a month, you must get skilled at the various chores and thus minimize your bandwidth requirements. 

There are three main concerns when setting up camp: 
  1. the living quarters. (tent, sleeping bags, personal stuff etc. ) 
  2. the camp kitchen. ( the hard part ) 
  3. campsite prep and layout ( fire pit, wood etc. ) 

Typically, in my camps, I handle the kitchen while everybody else works on the tent or preparing the campsite. 

From a bandwidth perspective, a chuck box is the best camping investment you can make. Once outfitted, you will find it very easy to transport, set up quickly and it also makes for easy cooking and cleanup. There is a lot more information on our camping gear and equipment webpage about this.

 ‘Devices’ can really help minimize bandwidth requirements but they can also weight you down. More is not always better. 

Also, a way to create more bandwidth for yourself is through crew training. However, help only helps if it’s good. (Dah.;-) We have to teach people what to do, you know? 

Camping has actually made me much better at narrowing my bandwidth requirements in all aspects of my life. I constantly evaluate and examine tasks and chores of my workplace in an effort to be more efficient. 

Life ( and camping ) are really all about bandwidth. While you can’t really make more time you can use the time you have more efficiently. In a technical sense I would call this narrowing the bandwidth. 

Here is hoping your camping trips resonate at a frequency that finds you in the company of campers on the same wavelength over a wide spectrum of wonderful outdoor situations with minimum glitches. ( Sorry..... it’s that old electronics teacher in me. ;-) 

Go Camping!


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