Sunday Reflections – 5 Reasons to Consider Camping

Dirt everywhere. Bugs too. Five minute walk to the bathroom. Very little privacy. Meals made over a campfire or on a propane stove. Cooler for “fridge.” Loud neighbors. Sleeping on a semi-comfortable air mattress. No air conditioning.

Personally, camping is not my thing. So, why? Why subject myself to two poor nights of sleep along with almost constant social interaction (not easy for an introvert)? Simply put, my husband and boys LOVE camping. On this past trip, the realization hit me that my efforts toward the camping experience were kind of pathetic. Just going did not seem like enough, especially with the words of 2 Corinthians 9:8 in mind.

“God can pour on the blessings in astonishing ways so that you’re ready for anything and everything, more than just ready to do what needs to be done.”

For this reason, I decided to consider the benefits of camping beyond the obvious of honoring my family. My Everyday God once again showed me more than I expected. I am realizing that if I get over myself and my expectations, camping can enhance other areas of life tremendously.

  1. Fellowship. We camp with friends, usually families from church. We have spent time together at church as well as church-related activities and even at each other’s houses. But something about spending two days together, talking at the campfire each night and seeing each other at our morning bests creates a deeper connection.
  2. Family. Take away video games, computers and phones. Take away toys and television. Minus housework and yard work. All excuses removed for why you can’t spend time together as a family. Camping returns a family back to the basic of enjoying each other in simple ways.
  3. Faith. Spending time in nature always increases my faith, and camping certainly is all about spending time outside. Walking trails. Enjoying sounds of animals. Watching the campfire. Something about camping brings out my introspective nature and opens me more to the voice of God.

These three crucial aspects of life seem to get a much-needed focus when camping. Maybe it’s the minimal distractions. Maybe it’s the simplicity of eating. Maybe both.

Not only does camping provide opportunity to strengthen fellowship, family and faith, it goes further into opportunity for

personal reflection and relaxation that few other settings can provide.

  1. Reflection. Think you’re doing pretty well in how you treat others and with humility? Feel like you do well with thinking of others before yourself? Camping gives a status check in these areas. How do you react when other campers are louder than seems appropriate? What about when people act as if they’re in their own back yard and seem to forget the existence of other campers? Do annoyances and small conflicts serve to separate or create greater bonds? Any expectation of personal privacy or routine must give way to flexibility. The only other options are unhappiness, irritation and even alienation. The choice comes down to being right or having relationship.
  2. Relaxation. In our nonstop world where so many people struggle to stop doing and just be, camping provides an essential break from the hustle and bustle of modern culture. The peaceful morning solitude. Simple, fun food. Congregating around the fire. With little effort, relaxing comes when the simpler life is allowed to simply run in course even if only for a weekend. Sure, everyone might relax differently, but simply being open to the idea of relaxing somehow allows it to flourish. Just one tiny step, maybe turning off the cell phone or putting down that file from work, and the relaxation that is camping easily consumes

This deeper look at camping has helped me realize that a change of venue to a simpler life allows perspective that only this simpler life can provide. Camping forces me to get outside of my silent, orderly world and into the world of interacting with others in a way that can strengthen and deepen bonds when flexibility and grace guide attitude, actions and words.

Maybe you don’t struggle with camping like I do. But you do have a “camping” issue in your life. Everyone does. How do you personally relate to my struggles with camping?

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12 thoughts on “Sunday Reflections – 5 Reasons to Consider Camping

  1. I heard a study one time (I don't remember where or when I heard this). They interviewed all of these families who were close together, and the only thing they had in common was that they all camped. Camping requires people to work together, puts them in occasional trouble spots with weather, and allows them to spend a lot of time together. I still am not a camping person (I have to have my shower), but who knows what will happen as my boys get older 🙂

    • Working together, being flexible, choosing to work through conflict, letting go of preferences. Camping forces all of these, and all of these are things that we tend to avoid in our daily lives. There are showers where we camp. I'm not that rustic!

  2. If we only "camped" where we are comfortable, how could we be opened to receive what others and experiences have to offer? We all need to expand our hearts/minds to what God has to offer us through our minor "annoyances" and "inconsiderate" neighbors. In the grand scheme of things, how important is it that we have to put up with the occasional bug, stinky body, and a restless nights sleep?

  3. I have to say i love camping! Scott and I just got back from camping and hiking in Glacier Park over the weekend. I feel like I'm filled up with beauty, it was so gorgeous up there. I love camping in national parks because the hiking is so good and the lodges are so fun to sit and relax and read or journal in. We usually hang out in the lodges for an hour or two each day when we're camping just to soak in the atmosphere. I think it's great that you make the effort to go even though you don't like it, Kari. It's a wonderful sacrifice for your family – a good way to enjoy them and to model to your kids that it's worth being uncomfortable to love others well.

    • Hiking & camping in the national parks sounds wonderful! The beauty would make the camping part worth it, and I already love hiking. Thank you for your kind words too. I am working on not just going but having a better attitude when I do go. It's not bad, but I feel like I'm doing just what I have to in order to get through, and that's not good enough. I appreciate the encouragement!

  4. Kari,

    My family loves camping. I do not. But I believe what you say about honoring your family by doing things that they love. This is something I have long tried to impress upon my family and that is this: If you love someone then you should be interested in the things they love and even beyond. You should learn to like and love the things they do for these reasons: 1. Out of respect for them, 2. Allows you to get to know them better by knowing what they love and why… find out the why 3. Deepens your relationships when you do stuff together and have share interests 4. Gives you something to talk about 5. It shows that you care for them. The attitude should be "I care about this because you care about it" I believe God cares about the things we care about. 6. Makes you a more diverse person. 7. They in turn most likely will show interest in the things you love. 8. Shared interests allow you to walk a similar path. 9. Gives you a chance to be giving towards them in the sense you have the opportunity to do something that enhances their love such as buying a camping tool as a present. 10. You might grow to love it too. 11. A way to express love and caring for them.

    Your willingness to do this; to engage in things you might not like or enjoy; to support their loves; to honor them this way shouts and sings "I love you"

    • Wow, Mark! You wrote a whole Part 2 to this post. Love the points you made and completely agree with them. Along with saying "I love you" through my actions, I am working on getting my attitude to line up with that. That's so important!

      • I have been thinking about this a couple of days while on vacation and I so strongly encourage this that I wanted to try to articulate why. I sometimes question someones love for another if they do not make this effort in some fashion. It just seems that love would do this.

        • Your point is a good one. Saying "I love you" simply isn't enough. Words without action to support them don't mean much, really. I know a couple recently who is separated because one failed years ago to truly show love in action to the other. Love can be cultivated, but it cannot be manufactured.

  5. Kari, you do a great job of sharing information about camping that makes it more than a "fun" time. The reasons you give for camping can also be used for short-term mission trips. I just got back a few weeks ago from two weeks in Alaska with a team which did remodeling work at a semi-remote church near Fairbanks. Spend two weeks with people and you get to know a lot of faith stories. Excellent, insightful post.

    • Thanks! You know, I did actually think about mission trips when I wrote the post. I've been on one (New Mexico), and have heard my pastor say that the key to a good mission trip is "flexibility." Thanks for mentioning it!

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