Yes, I’m using a Minecraft term to describe a real-life phenomenon. As a parent of two gamers, I’m quite familiar with their worlds, having both delved in firsthand and watched their (much more advanced) play. But I frequently tire of their glazed eyes only seeking me out for snacks. As much as I use their gaming time to work, I miss the kids who used to interact with me more each afternoon.
Those kids can be respawned – newly set into the world – each time we camp. I think of camping now as making space for that, setting up the world of play, and I try doubly hard to find places with points of interest, with wild life, with water, with plenty of tree cover, all the advantages of a decent Minecraft world.
Of course we build a shelter first, somewhere to set our bed (and thereby our spawn point). And that’s where I leave my metaphor, because this new space draws them out of the laptop and iPads, exploring with their feet and hands and bodies.
We breathe deeply and well. We stretch our whole selves. We are truly hungry for our meals, having wandered and moved in this new space. We fill our eyes with skies that go on forever, sunsets that rage, and the screened comparisons dim.
I love camping with friends, I really do. It’s easiest because it’s least mentally taxing on all of us – more people to decide what to do, to play with, to chat.
But I also love camping just the three of us. It’s freeing and, yes, scary sometimes. When we’re away, we’re not bumping into each other in the same space, exasperated by sharing, by noise, by laundry and dishes. We hang our hammocks nearby, talking while we relax in them, dirty feet visible over the edges. We all decide when to turn in by how tired we are and how much we like the story we brought to read aloud. We wash the dishes together, stoke the fire together, dunk feet into the cold streams and shriek. We remember how to talk to each other without rough edges on the words.
Camping regenerates our kindness. Something about the contrast of gentle and rough in the wild renews our commitments to each other. It’s primal. We are safety and warmth, together, and out there we remember.
And, okay, so camping is hard work, difficult to plan and to pack for. I admit it. All the unloading at home, the laundry and cleaning. Ugh. – I agree. This is not what I remember tho. Rather: days aglow in sunshine, movement, vibrancy, authentic living. Please take me to the forest.
It’s barely spring, snow still visible everywhere at altitude, freezing overnight. My list of camping dates and plans solidified in February. Let’s live in the world of nature, friends, and set spawn points by the sun. We need it desperately.