I spent the past few days camping. As many of you know I worked as a camp counselor for 3 summers and have gone on many camping trips throughout my childhood mostly through the Girl Scouts. There is something special about camping no matter what kind you do, though the more nitty gritty into nature I think the more it stretches you. There is just something about getting out of your comfort zone and sleeping outdoors that helps you to see yourself in a different way.
Camping always challenges and stretches me in some way and this one was no exception. Especially when you go with people you care about. Are we still going to get along when our food takes forever to cook or gets overcooked on the fire? How do we act when things don’t go the way we planned? Sure life is great when we live in a house together and have our own separate bedrooms, what happens when everyone’s stuffed together in one tent?
We camped out at Salisbury Beach State Reservation, the first two days was with one of my best friends TAH (the awesome housemate) and her 5 year old niece, my husband joined us for the last overnight. There were lessons and blessings sprinkled throughout the time. I have set up small 2 person tents a few times, TAH had bought an 8 person tent (pictured below), I had never before put up a tent that big. Thankfully our neighbors were experienced campers and were willing to dive in and help us. It took over an hour, but eventually it was up and beautiful. Since we had both been snapping at each other and were hot and flustered we needed to cool off literally and figuratively, we hit the beach.
Everyday we hit the beach. We started fires, we showered, we worked things out, overall we communicated well. One day it stormed and the quality of the tent was tested. We had our issues like the third day when I could not get the fire to catch and really didn’t want help. The neighbors ended up helping us out, it was a humbling experience to say the least. But spirits renewed and feelings were expressed.
Yesterday on our way home we stopped at Buffalo Wild Wings and it felt like a perfect end to all of it, to just get to sit back and be served and enjoy a good meal together. There was no way we were going to cook another meal after all that.
I want to end by sharing some reasons I love camping and why I think it’s something everyone should experience.
Community: Sure you can camp alone (many people do), but community really stood out to me over these past few days. It was clear that TAH and I could not have had a successful trip without each other. It was also great to have people around us who were willing to lend a hand and when we had extra wood at the end of our trip we gave it away. Campers are generally good people who just want to enjoy nature and have a good time. It felt good knowing there were kind helpful people around us and that at our best we were being kind and helpful to each other.
Accomplishment: Through our teamwork we were able to set up a tent, plan fun things to do, care for a five year old, make fires, cook dinner, and make things happen. The rewards of camping at least in my eyes are huge. There is something special about setting up a place for yourself and others to sleep, that doesn’t match the satisfaction of making your bed at home. It’s amazing what you can do with a few supplies, determination, and teamwork.
Connection to Nature: This one is huge being a born and raised city kid, it’s all to common for us in the city to get disconnected from nature. I remember so many girls coming to the camp I worked at explaining this was the first time they’d ever been in the woods! The small lawns and scattered trees we build into the city are nothing compared to the woods and oceans God’s created. One morning I woke up quite early and was in awe of the view around me, the sun breaking out from the horizon, the vast ocean, and the life around me just waking up. In those moments I always feel so alive and so connected to God I can hardly describe it.
Able to Be: In my mind this is the greatest reward of camping. At home I feel like I must be doing something, maybe it’s being American, personality, or just feeling like there is always something to do, so I better go do it. At camp though the only obligations are sleeping and eating. No appointments or places to go, just people and nature to enjoy. I got to just be for a few days. I didn’t go online (much), so I wasn’t hearing about the latest hard thing, I wasn’t making plans or answering emails. I simply was. I read, I talked, I went to the beach, I thought, I ate, I slept. Repeat. And while I’m glad to be home, it reminds me that I have to make moments in my day to recharge and refresh and just be.
Even if you don’t go camping this summer, I hope you get out in nature and let yourself just be, I promise it will do your mind, body, and soul some good.