So I did it. I gave in and went camping with Matt and the kids. In a tent. At the beach. In the summer. In what I, a city girl, consider the wilderness while Matt sees a very civilized campground with bathhouses and electricity. And you know what? I didn’t hate it! I am not sold on Matt’s idea of making this a yearly event but I might do it again for a few reasons.
There were lots of first for me this last weekend. First time to see live raccoons and feed wild deer (I told you it was the wilderness). First time to take a private port-a-potty on a trip (although, mercifully, I did not have to use it). First time to sleep in a tent with my family and the dog. First time to sleep outdoors near the ocean.
Really, this not my very first camping trip but it was my first camping trip of substance. A little over ten years ago I gladly agreed to spend one night on the floor of a tent on a crisp spring for the chance to glide alone in a canoe for four hours with the boy my heart desired. But that was then and love was young and so was I. So the prospect of two nights at a state park campground with two kids and a dog, cooking food on a campfire, sharing showers and toilets with strangers, being constantly sandy, hot, and sweaty did not appeal to this girl raised in a concrete jungle. But when the boy-my-heart-desired turned into the-man-who-holds-my-heart asked me to go, love could not say no.
And while I was always hot, often sweaty, and forever covered in sand those two days, I took a few mental snapshots that shifted my perspective a little.
I saw Isabel and Noah have a blast the way only children can. Covered in sand and sticky with sea water they soaked up the sun and the fun and their joy was contagious.
I saw my husband and his brother, who came along with his two teenagers, reconnect and talk about their shared hobby of photography and their connection and love was heartwarming.
I saw families, moms and dads, grandparents and pets, getting back to playing board games, riding bicycles, talking together and the future of the family looked hope-full.
And I saw me, away from rugs to vacuum, laundry to fold, papers to grade, e-mail to check, worries to think about and I relaxed.
And as I relaxed I looked around. And as I looked around I was what I was there to see: what God created for us to enjoy.
The ocean, the sunsets and sunrises, the deer, and the raccoons. And in the middle of this gift He made for us I felt closer to Jesus than I had in a while. It was quiet enough to hear the birds, dark enough to see the stars, still enough to let the Holy Spirit’s gentle whisper speaks to my heart.
And I came home renewed.
Who knew? In the middle of a busy campground, on a hot June weekend, in less-than-comfortable accommodations.
Matt grew up camping and has wonderful memories o f those vacations and, while I would still take a nice hotel with soft beds and a pool over camping any day, I may be a little less reluctant to go back next year. I guess we’ll just have to see…