Wednesday, May 30, 2007
We are just beginning our tent-camping adventures. I had bought most of our equipment 2 years ago, and I always keep an eye out at garage sales and thrift stores for camping goods. We hadn't been able to venture out yet with a move, a pregnancy, a new baby, financial strain, etc. So we decided that 2007 was the year to camp! I am now fully convinced that camping is good for the soul, good for the family, and also easy on the finances!
I would love to say that camping is simple, but it isn't. But I will say that camping leads you out to a life of simplicity even if just for a weekend. No phones or electronics for us. No electricity. Just all 6 of us sleeping together with cool breezes, chattering squirrels, rustic cooking, hand-washing dishes, fishing, playing games, exploring, and breathing deeply of nature and each other. All of us were definitely bit by the camping bug!
The biggest key to our weekend "success" was being prepared. I had a detailed packing list and had read several websites on camping with children and talked to several experienced campers. I kept food and cooking simple. We only went an hour away to a local state park so that we could get home easily if the going got too rough. In just a few weeks we will travel a little further away to enjoy this gem of a park.
It can be done! Even with four young children. And the relational and spiritual rewards are so worth the work. Here is an excerpt from my camping journal on our last morning:
It's hard to put into words the healing effect nature has on us. The Lord surrounds us with soothing beauty that calms and yet invigorates the soul. Living in nature should be a regular spiritual discipline...the creation magnifies the Lord, quiets our whole being, and calls forth in us strength, resourcefulness, courage, and creativity. It brings out the best and worst in us! It exposes the panic state I live in. It brings fear to the surface. Irritability and impatience spring out with the pressures of the unknowns. In yet as they come out, the Lord, through His creation, heals it and calms us down. The longer we are out here, the more at ease we become with each other, our surroundings, and the unpredictibility. We settle down into a natural and communal rhythm of living....then peace replaces panic. Trust instead of fear. And laughter, gentleness, and harmony reign over our previous relational short-fuses. The fruit of the Spirit is being found among the trees of the wild.
Look into your camping possibilities. State parks, family campgrounds, and even your own backyard can be the perfect environment to begin. The kids will love it. The memories will be some of their favorites. The benefits are numerous. And you will learn to relax, breathe more deeply, laugh at yourself, and find the Lord in new and surprising ways.