Monday, August 4, 2014

Camping With The Kids: Big Lessons In Little Adventures

I considered making up my own word and titling this post Camping and Creeking With The Kids (as in, playing in creeks), but then I discovered that according to Urban Dictionary, creeking is also a term derived from the 90's teen drama Dawson's Creek that means overthinking a situation or feeling until it becomes more complicated than it really is, and I thought that would be just a little too ironic because, let's face it, I do that.

I overthink because I want to overteach. Lately at home I haven't felt I've been doing the best job of giving my kids what I feel they need – a mom who is not stressed, who is patient, who is living by example. We all have a little mom guilt now and then, right? Lately I've allowed some of the pressures of life and the crushed expectations and the self-loathing thoughts to stand in the way of me doing my most important job, and I've been struggling to figure out how to get back to the basics.

I've been hurting, and I've needed to heal. For me, yes, but also for them.

Spiritual Healing Found In Nature
Life Lessons Found In The Wild
During the past couple of weekends we spent some time 'getting away'. It should be clear to all of us by now that in our world, it's hard to escape all the wrong things that get thrown at us everyday.

More is Better. Beauty is Success. Life is about ME. Don't think – just fill up your mind with everything that can distract you from how miserable existence is.

So the thing we need to do is take the time to escape it.

This is what I learned (and re-learned) by 'getting away from it all' with my family:

What I Learned Beauty Is Found In Simple Pleasures

When we go on camping trips, my husband brings way too much food. He says camping is for eating lots of delicious camp snacks, and and he also claims that while camping, calories don't count. (If only that were true...) But food really does seem to taste better in the outdoors, after working up an appetite in the water or on a trail, and feeling the warm sun on your face and the lake wind blow through your hair really is better than any movie you'll ever see.

Less Is Better, By Far

I read a few articles about camping with kids before we went on our trip, and though many of them had some great ideas, I decided that taking a giant tub full of toys to make sure they stayed entertained was not the way to go for us. I spend so much of my time at home cleaning up toys or supervising the cleaning up of toys that I was determined to get away from it for a while. And guess what? They made their own fun, and there was nothing to fight over. My determination to simplify has been renewed, and I once again remember the significance of packing light, in all types of baggage we may carry in life.

The Importance Of Sacrificing Comfort

Too much comfort results in too much expectation. When you go without life's little luxuries, you remember to be thankful, and you are better equipped to teach that thankfulness to your children.

And one morning around 4 am, when you need to pee and leave your tent with your flashlight and walk off into the darkness, you will remember what it's like to be brave. You might choose your spot, shut off the flashlight, and just as you squat, hear a growl behind you. You may think, that was probably a snore, not a growl, and glance toward the direction of the tent, but then you will hear it again – the low, guttural sound of a nocturnal animal – and realize it's definitely behind you.

As you try to mentally will yourself to pee faster, you might also talk yourself into believing you are not terrified, but your heart's thudding in your chest and the speed at which you approach the tent while yanking up your shorts mid-stride will say otherwise.

And then you will be really, REALLY thankful that you have a shelter to go home to and don't usually have to worry about being mauled to death in the middle of the night by a wild beast.

(Or maybe you will get lucky, and that won't happen to you at all, since it already happened to me, but the key is that these kinds of adventures teach you to handle whatever comes your way.)

Having Gratitude When It's HardTo See It All Through Their Eyes 

Every adventure, no matter how small, is grand in the eyes of your children. If you fall off the inner tube, you can still remember how fun it was to ride. You can look forward to the s'more at the end of the day. You may trip on the rocks, but your toes still never felt so good than when the creek was rushing over them.

You can be thankful for the experience, all good and bad of it. When it's all fresh and new, the gratitude comes easy.
Connection Is Healing
The experience is only what it is because you're together – the bonds you create with your family and with your Creator are more meaningful than anything else you could ever do.

When the trip is over, you may have to come back home to 'reality', but maybe reality wasn't what you thought it was. And maybe it's good to do a little 'creeking' now and then...because maybe you'll realize that it's all just one small part of one great big adventure.