Insights from Summer 2020 Camping

I have this romanticized view of camping. Escaping the hustle. Connecting with nature. Relaxing by the fire. Not worrying about sentence fragments.

My experiences with camping over the past few years, however, have been the opposite of relaxing. All the prep work. Packing the car. Unpacking the car because everything doesn’t fit. Repacking the car. Setting up the camp site. Broken air pumps. Holes in air mattresses. Lack of sleep. Getting rained on. Grumpy kids. Grumpy wife. Worrying about sentence fragments.

My summer 2020 camping experience was painful. I had planned on taking my two young children camping for a week at a provincial park. I chose a park close to home just to make things easier if I had to cut the trip short. In fact, after less than 24 hours I returned my six-year-old son, crying and covered in mosquito bites, home to his mom. The glare on my wife’s face that day knowing that she would not get a reprieve from the kids that week still haunts me.

I was ready to sell all my camping equipment and put an end to camping forever, but my eight-year-old daughter, for some reason, loves camping. So, after dropping off my crying son to my scowling wife, I returned to the campsite with my camping-loving daughter.

Over the next few days, something magical happened. I can’t say everything completely turned around and camping morphed into this amazing experience. But there were moments of amazingness. Connecting with nature. Connecting with stillness. Connecting with my daughter. Being one with the sentence fragment.

It makes me think that life is one big camping trip. It’s painful. It’s chaotic. Excrement hits the fan and when everything is cleaned up, s’more excrement hits the fan. Yet if we are aware, if we are attuned to what’s really happening, what really matters, it’s full of wonder, surprise, and beauty. And that’s why, like my daughter, I love camping.