When you go camping, you are going on an outdoor excursion. You may go camping in a state park or campground, or take your camping gear and hike into the backcountry. Camping can be a fun and rewarding experience, but it is important to know the difference between “going” and “doing” camping.
I am sure you have heard people say “let’s do camping” or even “let’s go camping” and thought to yourself….which is correct? Does it matter? Well, as we all know, the English language (especially in the United States) is kind of goofy, and we have many rules…with exceptions. What good is a rule if there are exceptions?
My wife, an English teacher, has taught me so much about how and why certain phrases are used and what they mean. Now, this post is not an English lesson, but it will answer your question on whether to say “do camping” or “go camping” based on your intent.
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What Is The Difference?
Most of the time, as with most of our phrases, we get accustomed to saying something, even if it is not correct. For example, my wife, who is excellent at our language, used to say “Chester Drawers” vs. “Chest of Drawers.” Although educated in the language, this was just how she said it as a little girl, and it stuck. It wasn’t until I called her out on it that she realized it was incorrect.
Now, let’s do a quick lesson on what Go and Do actually mean.
Go vs. Do
Do is a verb, meaning “to perform an action.” It can be followed by an object, in which case the object becomes the verb’s direct object. For example, I do my homework every day.
Go is a verb, meaning “to move from one place to another.” It can also be an imperative, meaning “let’s go!” or “go ahead!” For example: Let’s go to the movies tonight! or Go ahead and take a seat.
Now, back to Camping and the great outdoors.
There is a big difference between going camping and doing camping. When you go camping, you drive to a campsite, set up camp, and then leave. You don’t have to carry all your gear because the site will usually have a fire pit, picnic table, and toilets. By saying go camping, you are saying that you are going to a location to camp.
This would be the correct phrase if you said planning a camping trip where you were visiting a State Park or a National Park. Say you were going to a campsite at Yosemite National Park, then you can confidently say, “let’s go camping.”
However, when you do camping, this is the physical activity of camping. This means you are talking about all the fun activities we associate with camping, like hiking. Also, when you do camping, you are likely to bring your camping gear such as a tent or sleeping bag.
As you discovered, there is a difference in intent when you say let’s “go camping” vs let’s “do camping”. One is the act of visiting a location, like when you want to plan a camping trip to Joshua Tree. While “do camping” is the camping experience of setting up camping equipment and enjoying our favorite activities such as hiking.
featured image Joshua Tree National Park, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons
Tony is an avid camper and RV traveler. He fell in love with camping on his first RV trip with his wife over 25 years ago. Tony loves sharing lessons learned and tips about RV maintenance and safe traveling.