Sunday, March 26, 2023


Why my ‘caveman TV’ is better than any other TV

Campfire pits are the places we can gather around and share stories. I prefer adopting the term my brother uses for contained, shared fires—a “caveman TV.” Flames flicker against the black of night while faces glow in the dark room of space. Words float across the span of hot light, but they are our words. Not words from a TV program.

Group of men and women sitting around a small campfire in a pavilion.
Campfire stories at Christmas.

Not all RVers enjoy sitting around a campfire. Reasons vary from being too cold, too hot, to too much smoke and many more. But you do have to admit the flames draw humans to the circle and the stories that are shared are full of warmth like the flames. The attraction of a “caveman TV” can be greater than the discomfort.

When we bought our RV years ago, it was filled with four televisions. FOUR! We had two in our brick-and-mortar home, and we thought that was a bit much. From our rig, we have given away one TV to our son. There is one on the patio we pull out for grandkids to watch on rare occasions. One television in the bedroom has only been watched a handful of times in all these years, and there is a TV in the living area which is seldom watched anymore because it is at an odd angle to our seating.

Small group of people around a campfire in a pavilion.
Making new friends and stories around a fire pit.

I’m not complaining about first-world problems. I’m just wondering if the features in our RVs are necessary and to what extent they stifle us.

When I ask other RVers, “Why did you start RVing?” the answer I get from most RVers is “Freedom.” Freedom to go where they want, when they want and escape. How far are you getting when you sit in front of your television inside your RV? Where is the adventure?  What are the stories you are experiencing? Most importantly—what are the stories you are sharing?

This past year I know I have sat around a firepit or campfire at least 25 or more times with family, friends, and strangers. That is at least 25 new stories, ideas, or places I have absorbed. I’m a richer RVer for that. I’m not poorer for watching digital TV instead of caveman TV but… sometimes I wonder.

I’m not a purist of any kind. I like balance and prefer not to lean on the support of one extreme or another. We don’t need to throw our TVs away. But if you don’t have a TV in your RV (or other digital hobbies), more power to you. It’s OK to stay connected, but I wonder if there is a better way? The way you wanted to connect when you first started RVing?

Large fire pit with leaping flames and people standing around at a distance.
Everyone gets to contribute fuel and stories around this giant fire pit.

When you go to busy yourself with your television (or other electronic devices), maybe you should switch out your digital TV for a caveman TV. Be someplace where you can share stories and experiences. Go where you can extend the life of real adventures. We might even need to reevaluate what is more important to carry in our upgraded RV space—a firepit or a TV? I suspect I have at least one more television to give away. At the same time, I will continue to search for available campfires so the stories will live on.



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1 month ago

Don’t get me started on campers who set up an entire drive-in theatre simulation next door!

1 month ago

I bought an RV in 2015, first things first. I drove it home, removed the TV and the accompanying electronics associated with it. Obviously, I’m not a fan of TV in the great outdoors.

Neal Davis
1 month ago

Sounds nice. We traded RVs last summer, going from 4 televisions to 3 (and from 43 feet to 36 feet in length). We travel frequently (at least 4 days per month) and have never encountered communal fires, or been invited to sit around a stranger’s fire. Maybe it will happen. I would like to try it. I can’t imagine that I won’t enjoy it.

As to why we travel, DW has her own reasons, but mine is that I enjoy driving the RV. I enjoy the travel. I enjoy the low speeds of unlimited access state and US highways. I enjoy interstates when they are maintained (i.e., lacking potholes). I enjoy piloting our rig through challenging situations. I enjoy relaxing after a day of travel. I enjoy walking the dog in the morning and evening with DW. I enjoy the comforts of home our RV provides.

Jim Johnson
1 month ago
Reply to  Neal Davis

Campfires or communal discussion circles are intimate (and I don’t mean sexual, but I suppose that also happens) places. Take the time to walk, say hello, ask questions about the campground, where somebody has travelled, etc, then listen more than talk and those invitations will come. And it they don’t, you may be in the wrong campground for your current stay.

1 month ago
Reply to  Jim Johnson

A very good suggestion! Interact during the day, and the evening campfire could happen.

We went to a very small (6 sites) Forest Service campground last fall, and backed-in to a site that was at the entrance. People asked us questions, and assumed we were the camp hosts. Nope. But, it did get us talking with two separate single ladies that joined us for a campfire (separate nights). Daytime conversation is a great way to break the ice, then spend the campfire listening to others’ stories.
1 month ago
Reply to  Neal Davis

Maybe start your own camp fire and be the one to invite people to join you?

1 month ago

Yes. The manufacturers should only provide ‘extra’ TVs as an option. There are times one tv is very helpful. The outdoor one is really just a nuisance, and I could have used that space better as a hatch to hold something useful.

Campfires are better, though many times high winds prevent us from having them.

j rendt
1 month ago

This is off topic, but the title reminded me of what my employer did back in the 90’s. His parent’s had installed their TV in an old fireplace to save space, so he make a VHS tape of a fire that they could play on the TV.

Lawrence Talbot
1 month ago

We have always traditionally had campfires while camping, whether boondocking or in provincial or forest service campgrounds. However, with campfire bans due to wildfire concerns now being a regular occurrence, we now carry a portable propane fire pit. Easy to set up and, more importantly, easy to regulate the flame size and to shut off when finished. This also eliminates having to source appropriate firewood. The fire pit takes up a bit of room in our truck camper, but it is worth it. And, yes, you can roast marshmallows on a propane fire pit!

1 month ago

Watching a campfire is in the human DNA. Think how many years humans have stared into the flickering magic of the flames. Nobody can resist watching.

1 month ago

Sometimes weather keeps us in the RV, so we click on the tv. We have never even turned on the bedroom tv, and I am against putting one in the basement for outside viewing. Some people like having multiple tv’s some don’t. There is no wrong way or right way. It could be tv’s, toilets, generators, tents or a $500,000.00 coach, How one camps is completely up to them, and honestly nobody’s business.

Gary Yoder
1 month ago

Agree 100% , Life goes by way too fast anyway. My wife and I camp with a group of friends who all look forward to shared stories and memories made around the campfire. Sitting around the campfire sharing life for us is what camping is all about.

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