Camp for Resilience

Our recent camping adventure ended without actual camping – as none had before – but camping trips also never go the way we plan. Never.

Yes, this one ended with a large vehicle stuck in mud + a surprise (and lucky) condo stay. But we’ve also camped in a snowstorm or with days of pounding rain. In fact, when I started thinking about it, I wondered if this is why my daughter, who enjoys no surprises, dislikes camping. She says it’s the bugs and her bed. Camping, for her, is something to overcome.

Yet camping is my favorite, favorite way to get outside, to explore our state, and to spend quality time together as a family. Even with all the time I spend helping talk her through her fears before we go. I already love hiking, doing things with my hands, and feeling I can fend for myself as a human in an unfavorable environment – or at least one that’s not tailored to me. I feel powerful in the wild, and so very alive.

Even in the best of cases, space formally secured through a campground, we’re not in control of many other factors.

Once a domestic- and emotional-abuse altercation in the adjacent tent kept me and my son awake all night, fearful. Then there was the time our dog ran away at 2 o’clock in the morning in a full campground and I had to quietly chase her in my underwear. (She went to the car, a quarter mile away, and I had to fetch the keys so she could sleep there.) Last year a torrential rain storm closed the interstate moments after we passed through, and nobody else showed up to our group camp, sans cell service, for two more days. You know, factors.

It is so good for me to not be in control. Me personally.

A month ago we camped at the Great Sand Dunes National Park with eight other families in freezing temperatures and high winds. All survived – and want to return!

I have six more trips planned this year, and I’m willing to bet my tent that not a single one goes as expected. Whatever their independent failures, I always come away happy. Why? The simplest of things, always. Sunshine on my face. Our family together, facing whatever adversity arises. Meals cooked outdoors, gathered around the fire pit. Even stress is minimized as the possible solutions are narrow out here.

We expand to fit these spaces, I believe, and houses are too small for the spirits inside. We need less casts and shells, fewer formal constructs, if we want to grow well. Yes, it’s challenging to camp with small people, and sometimes even with larger ones. But it’s so, so, so worth it.

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