Summer is upon us. The days are long and the sun is hot; the kids are out of school and everyone is ready for adventure. Summer brings barbeques, swimming, late nights and sleeping in...but most of all, summer brings camping!
We were once asked, “Why do you go out there and live like that when you have a perfectly good home?” We giggled, because we have often asked ourselves that same question. The preparation takes days, the gear is endless, the showers are few and the bug bites plentiful. Why do we, week after week, leave the comforts of our home, the conveniences of our life and go live in the woods?
1) To Get Away From Distractions
We always make sure we go just beyond cell service, where there are no screens, no phones and no to-do-lists. Where neither the yard work nor the house projects are staring at us. Where there is nothing but time; time to be in the moment with one another. Time to explore, run, climb and play. Time to read a book while cups of ‘dirt tea’ are brought to our sides by our children. Time to pick wildflower bouquets. Time to throw rocks and dig in the dirt. Camping gets us away from the daily grind and the distractions that try to lure us into a life of "doing" rather than "being."
2) To Breed Creativity
Many people believe that we need to give our children everything—the newest toys and constant entertainment; that it is our job to ensure that our children are not bored. We believe one of the greatest things we can do for our kids is to send them outside with nothing and watch their imaginations, their minds and their creativity grow. It is amazing what a child can create when you remove the conventional craft closets and toy bins and replace them with a forest full of the greatest"‘supplies" to bring life to their ideas. Worlds are created from tree falls; feasts prepared of foraged ingredients; creek games invented and played. Ideas become realities, inventions and beautiful creations.
3) To Cultivate Flexibility
“I forgot the ketchup.”
This short sentence uttered by Mom has almost sent the rest of the family into a tailspin, complete with "how could you" glares and all. When there isn’t an endless supply of everything and the store is not down the road, we must be flexible. When our boots are wet and our tennis shoes are wetter, we must be flexible. When we forgot to cover the food and a raccoon ate the last of the ribs, we must be flexible. Camping gives us many chances to cultivate flexibility in our lives.
4) To Work Together
When the early morning comes, the children are sent out to build the first fire of the day, together. They work as a team finding the perfect fire starter, collecting the chopped wood and blowing that first spark. As the day goes on, they work together building forts, carrying logs across creeks to explore the other side and hauling buckets of water to build their ponds; all things they couldn’t do on their own. They have a vision together, they have dreams together and they need one another to execute their plans.
5) To Provide A Greater Education Than Money Could Buy
While one of us can sit back and read a book in the sun all day, the other can’t be still for more than five minutes...and so begins the incredible education that happens in the woods. His big hands, swallowing up their little ones, lead them down a road of adventure-filled learning. They engineer tree log bridges across creeks, ponds for the fish they catch, shooting ranges and obstacle courses. They navigate using maps, compasses and all that surrounds them to discover where they have been and where they want to go. They learn how to build fire, identify tracks and classify plants. This is where every school subject is covered in an hour of "play."
6) To Hear Something Different
No dings, rings or bleeps from technology; just the sound of the wind blowing, the water flowing and the birds chirping, composed together with the sound of children’s laughter, fire crackling and trees creaking.
7) To Talk Around the Campfire -
“Mommy? Who was Daddy before he was Daddy?” she asked around the campfire. We were reminded that the deep questions that are asked now, when they are little, become the deeper talks that will happen later, as they grow. Something about poking at embers with a willow stick brings out the most profound conversations.
This is where, so often, the hearts of our children are heard—around the campfire.
8) To Stop Time
When camping, time stands still. No appointments. No clocking in or out. The sun wakes you up and the stars lay you down. You eat when you are hungry and you play until you need a rest.
9) An Excuse for Junk Food
Bedtime s’mores, hot cocoa each morning and real chocolate chip cookies (not the ones with spinach that Mom makes at home) are some of our great camping traditions that will become great camping memories.
10) To Remember
When we are under the stars, surrounded by nothing but creation, we are reminded of how vast and great the Creator is who made all of this for us to enjoy.
So, no matter where you live; the mountains, the city, the country or the suburbs, pack up your tent, your camper or the back of your truck and get out! Leave behind the distractions and let the adventure begin.