A few years ago a counsellor I was seeing was telling me of the numerous studies that have been done, showing the benefits of families who go camping as their children are growing up. These studies revealed that camping creates a cohesiveness in families, and those families who went on camping holidays together showed stronger relationships between parents and their teenagers and adult children in the future.
Interesting isn’t it?
I didn’t read any of the studies, or do any research, but you don’t need to be a social scientist to understand the benefits of camping. We made a commitment as a family a couple of years ago to camp often, and last year we pitched our tent no less than five times!
This holidays was our third camping trip for 2019, and the best by far.
It’s escaping the fast pace of every day.
It’s togetherness—close togetherness, jammed tight into a car on a long trip, into a tent with mattresses lined up in a row.
It’s team work; setting up and holding tarps and tents, tapping in pegs and unfolding sleeping bags.
It’s in the way that doing simple chores becomes adventure, and preparing meals becomes a novelty.
It’s living in sunshine, swimming the sea, drinking the wild air’s salubrity*
It was slowing down, watching the trees blur by with the mountains of the Great Southern behind them. There were fields and fields of bright yellow canola, and cows and horses and sheep and lambs, and there was comfortable quiet, and conversations that rambled like the hills.
We pitched a tent with ocean views, and watched whales in the bay with our morning coffee!
We moved close around the fire in the evening, roasting marshmallows and remembering funny family stories—rehashing those family tales, the ones that confirm our place within the world, our world.
We rustle up simple grub, that tastes like five star gourmet after full days of sun and sand and salt.
We wake early to explore, roaming beaches and trekking down hills, never knowing where they’ll lead us, and always finding magic. The magic of whales, breaching just beyond the breakers, and of watching dolphins, and of discovering hidden coastline framed with mountains.
We’re off our phones, off the beaten track, off the grid, the wheel, the grind—off in our own little worlds.
There is nothing like it.
Drinking this air, in the wild of creation, and all of it singing His songs.
We’re creating memories and I’m breathing it all in; basking bodily on warm rocks, and eating too much chocolate, waking up to the birds (and the piles of kids, rolling across our sinking air mattresses, tickling and giggling).
We’re memory making and simplifying and resetting, mentally and spiritually.
And when we come home grubby, and tired and full, and while the washing machine seems not to be finished even days later—we are rested and recharged and ready to head headlong into our every day lives. Only now we’re slower paced, self-aware, carrying with us the sense that life doesn’t have to be complicated, and that camping doesn’t have to end when the tent is rolled up and the fishing gear is put away.
We’ve got our every day moments together. We may not have whales to watch while we drink our morning coffee, but the willie wagtails on the front lawn can bring wonder if we let them. We may not have marshmallows to roast, but we have daily meals to eat together, and stories to tell and memories to make. There’s a beach down the street, and lengthening days to fill with our people.
We knit it all into the fabric of our days, drinking the wild air and living in the sunshine.
*Ralph Waldo Emerson, beautiful words