We went camping last weekend. Beth did not sleep at all. Abraham threw up on me twice, and again when we got home. We were muddy all weekend. I got to carry Eden around the campground for two hours trying to get her to go to sleep. The RV guy next to us ran his generator most of the night. There were lots of flies. The bathroom was far away. Camping is not that great.
We went camping last weekend. We got to be outside all weekend. I turned my phone off for 2 days and it was awesome. We got to hang out with friends. Our whole family hiked up to a waterfall, and Abraham pretended he was a bear. Eden played in a big mud puddle as much as she could and loved it. We got to sit around a fire. Abraham and friends got to throw sticks in the fire. Eden loved the dirt. Abraham and I got to swim in the river for 3 hours. Camping is great!
There are a few things that camping teaches me about intentionality. We actually don’t go camping often, so I am sure there is more to learn. I imagine those of you who take your families to the woods a lot will have much deeper insights.
First, simple things are harder. Cooking takes longer, going to sleep takes longer, walking to the bathroom takes longer. This of course forces you to make intentional choices about how you spend your time. It also brings focus. The “easy everywhere” of our normal life gives us the option to focus on nothing. When things are suddenly more difficult we suddenly have to learn to focus on what we are doing. I appreciate the being forced to ignore the constant wandering of my mind to try to make a decent pancake on a griddle that is burning up hot in the middle and cold on the outside because my old camp stove has tiny burners. If we let it this need for focus can apply to our family and community we are in the woods with as well as ourselves.
Less stuff. This is obvious, but fitting everything we need for a few days into our Corolla makes us really examine what we need. (Let the record show, we were camping with friends, so we got the benefit of things they brought, like a canopy to cover the table and a grill, without having to bring it ourselves.)
Finally, common experiences. I am pretty convinced that one of the most important things that a family, community, or team needs to be successful is common experiences. There is big value in doing things together simply because that time gives you common language and norms, understand of each others way of being in different situations, and a foundation on time together to build on later. Camping is a great common experience. Everybody is a little bit out of their comfort zone, so we get to learn new things about each other, but at the same time it is fun and low pressure. There is not much risked, so we can all be intentional to slow down, learn about each other, learn about ourselves, and try to get a little bit of sleep all at the same time.