As the season of summer camping reaches its midpoint, I thought I would sit back in my folding chair with the highly coveted double cup holder and reflect on the rules and realities of camping. Interestingly, many carry over into rather timely lessons on life.
1. Only walk as fast as the slowest hiker
A large part of being a support to your family and friends is to be on pace with them. You can't be helpful if nobody is following you, can't keep up with you or you are on a completely different trail. Playing as a team in life isn't about you dictating the journey, it's about finding a balance between the abilities of all involved and sharing the journey.
2. Yes, you can indulge in too much of a good thing
Hey, I love s'mores as much as the next guy. But after the fifth, I had to wonder if the sixth one was such a good idea. Moderation in all things is a smart move; even with camp food.
5. Recognize the value in downtime.
In an age of scheduled playdates, two-income families multi-tasking the daily needs of the household, and countless places where we need to be or should have been 10 minutes ago, busy schedules are sometimes hailed as a mark of success. But the pleasure of doing nothing but rediscovering the members of your family is a rare gift, indeed.
4. Corn on the cob really does taste sweeter when it's undercooked.
Life is filled with mistakes. Yet, even the most epic of blunders cannot be thrown out as a total disaster. There is always a trace of good that is bound to catch one off guard. Keep an eye out for it.
3. When all that protects you from the elements is some canvas and a zipper - you learn to appreciate the zipper
Sometimes, it's the smallest things in life that offer the most support. I grew to love my secured tent door flap about as much as I learned to relish and deeply miss crushed ice.
6. The trail to the outhouse seems much farther in the dark
At times, the goals we set for ourselves don't always seem so easy when we can't see the result in front of us. During times like this, trust that you are on track and re-examine it when the light is better, and the pathway is clear.
7. Don't mess with Mama Moose
A mother's love is a powerful thing. In our world, a mom's connection with her children is often casually dismissed, or tagged as mom simply being overprotective. In the wilderness, a mother's dedication to her baby is a relationship that commands respect and instills fear in the most experienced of nature lovers. Be fiercely and unapologetically dedicated to your role as a mom. And, never underestimate the power of your influence on your children.
8. Be prepared
Just like those moments when the spare pair of shorts or the extra batteries come in handy, so goes the rule of thumb with your family. So, arm yourself with extra hugs to share and pack extra patience to endure the unexpected bumps that will surely mark your road.
It really doesn't take much to be comfortable in life. I am a gal who enjoys her household gadgets. But, do I enjoy them so much I am willing to haul them up mountains, through valleys, and across rivers to become a fixture in my campsite? We forget that these gadgets simply provide comfort and fun. They don't fulfill any substantial, life-sustaining need. Camping provides a nice reminder of how easy it is to achieve total contentment simply by having shelter, a roaring campfire, a flashlight, a roll of toilet paper, a cooler of diet soda, a deck of cards, my family and a box of Pop Tarts.
10. Returning home
It doesn't matter in what condition you left it; returning home is always a welcoming feeling. Hello, refrigerator and ice machine. Greetings, nice warm bed with clean sheets. Howdy, hot shower and flushable toilet. Maintaining that strong sense of gratitude for life's pleasures can make all of the difference when dealing with the mundane aspects of daily life. Life is good, after all.
J'Nel is a Contributing Editor at FamilyShare.com. When she isn't writing or editing, she is strongly encouraging uncooperative family members to pose for photos, golfing, playing outdoors or reading. While working on degrees in English and Social Work, she visited French Polynesia, parts of South America, Egypt, Indonesia, Europe, Thailand, Singapore, Hong Kong, and much of the United States. She remained in town long enough to earn a BA in English from the University of Utah. J'Nel's motto: Have suitcase. Will travel.