As you may know, our family just had our first official campout. Overall, I was pleasantly surprised how it all went down. I was expecting sweltering heat and vast amounts of insects. While we had a bit of both, it wasn’t obnoxious.
The kids were super-troopers and willing to risk life beyond air conditioning and electricity. I think all of those episodes of Man vs. Wild may have helped in this department. Needless to say, we were all in.
The moment we pulled into our campsite, I felt ready to take on nature. The Girl Scout force was strong with this one. I was armed with glow sticks, homemade bug spray, a Swiss Army knife, battery-operated personal cooling devices, and a slew of other camping hacks.
What I didn’t realize is that nature would take hold of me, and teach me that not everything I needed could be neatly tucked into a backpack.
Here are five things to prove that…
What’s the quote about “best laid plans…?” Well, inevitably we didn’t have everything we needed for our trip. As much planning and list-making as I had done, we forgot a few fairly important things.
One of them being a pot holder to remove food from the fire. Yikes. We also didn’t pack enough bottled water or a rain tarp for the tent. Triple yikes. Once we heard thunder, I started to panic. Then my husband reminded me that…
a) It wasn’t raining, yet, and the clouds could blow over, and
b) We were fairly smart people who could figure things out. (We also held keys to a car that could drive us back home, if needed.)
Not wanting to wimp out, we fired up our adventurous spirit and started tackling each issue at a time. We had metal skewers that could double as tongs. There was a water fountain by the restrooms to fill our bottles. We had plenty of trash bags that could stretch across the top of our tent. Check, check and check!
Later that night, when we realized we needed more kindling for the fire, Clara quickly said, “We could use these dry leaves over here!” Atta girl. We may not have packed enough gear, but we had our resourcefulness. And nothing, including a little rain, could ruin our camping parade.
Right after we unloaded the car, we took a dip in the campground pool, checked out the scenery, and eventually got back to our campsite for the evening. That’s when we realized our mistake. We started the charcoals too late.
As we sat staring and waiting for those damn bricks to turn gray so we could cook our dinner, I realized I left my patience at home. We all did. The kids were getting grumpy as the sun was setting on our hungry faces. We tried to distract ourselves with music on our phone, only to discover we had no service. Not even one bar.
We found ourselves with a choice: sit with our impatience or enjoy this beautiful evening, which turned out to have little to no rain and a gorgeous moon.
100% thanks to my husband, we chose the second option. We made up our own version of frisbee golf, and even caught a few fireflies, while we patiently waited for our food. And when it was finally ready, it never tasted so good.
The same lesson showed up in the morning. As I waited…and waited…for the eggs to cook and the water to boil for my coffee, I invited a little patience to join me. I picked up a book to read, but I ended up just sitting in the quiet with my family listening to the crackling fire. For the first time in at least 24 hours, I didn’t feel the need to rush around. I was healed for a moment from my lifestyle of constant movement. And it felt really nice.
One of the reasons we chose to camp at Devil’s Den was because of its hiking trails. There are several to choose from, so we went with the one named Devil’s Den. I figured it would be like a restaurant…you can’t go wrong ordering the item named after the joint. Well, it lived up to my expectations. This trail was filled with crazy rock formations, tons of native vegetation and plenty of scurrying creatures.
At one point we were met with a fork in the road. As cliché as it sounds, we took the road less traveled. We decided to be adventurous, and look what we found!
The tiny winding path led us right to this spot where there were hundreds of stacked stones along the creek. Maybe it wasn’t so “less traveled” after all? Regardless, we stopped to take pictures and add our contribution before we were on our way.
And I left feeling thankful we were bold enough to take this path in the first place. We could have easily blown past it and missed this delightful landscape – which would have been a shame. Adventure for the win.
Being outdoors, you have to be aware of your surroundings for safety reasons. You could come upon a poisonous snake or even a bear in some parts around here, and you need to know how to handle the situation. That goes without saying. It’s also nice to just look around every now and then and be aware of how beautiful things are.
When I took time to notice, I saw all kinds of friendly creatures just doing their thing. It reminded me that these woods are their home, and I was merely a guest.
The idea of being out in the wilderness without access to texting, gaming or any form of electronic communication sounded scary to my kids. I even freaked out for a bit when we couldn’t even get music. But once we started exploring and playing games that required frisbees and a deck of cards, we started to realize how much we needed this.
I hope you have a chance to go camping, or at least spend time in the great outdoors soon. It can be life changing – if you let it all in.
Love and hugs,