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 a refrigerator. Loud neighbors. Sleeping on a semi-comfortable air mattress. No air conditioning.
Personally, camping is not my thing. So, why subject myself to two poor nights of sleep along with almost constant social interaction (not easy for an introvert)? Simply put, my family loved camping. On one trip, the realization hit me that my efforts toward the camping experience were kind of pathetic. Just going did not seem like enough.
“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.” (2 Corinthians 9:8)
So, 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 realized that if I get over myself and my expectations, camping can enhance other areas of life tremendously.
- Fellowship. We sometimes camp with friends. There’s just something special about spending two days together. Talking at the campfire each night and seeing each other at our morning best deepens our connection.
- 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 can return a family back to the basic of enjoying each other in simple ways.
- Faith. Spending time in nature always increases my faith. 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.
- 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.
- 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 its 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 A Simple 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.