“You’re not on a vacation. You’re on a trip.” These were the wise words of a friend of mine as I lamented about the perils of not staying in a five-star hotel for our summer family getaway. Because I am a mother who forces her children to love nature as much as she does, and because I have a husband who enjoys a campsite bill rather than a hotel bill, we tend to spend our “vacations” camping around National Parks instead of cushy and more glamourous locations.
I couldn’t love it more.
But since I’m on “vacation” I’m going to let my children do my writing for me this week. “Tell me some of the things you learned about life while camping. Go ahead. Philosophize.” Here are their top five.
1. Packing efficiently is important. “Even though I don’t like living out a tiny bin, I can see why you made us pack like this. And really, you don’t need very much. I’m sure we all kind of stink a little bit, but since we all smell together, no worries!”
2. Teamwork matters. Anybody who has ever pulled into a campsite late at night and had to hook up an RV, trailer, or set up a tent will more than agree. Making dinner, hanging clothes out to dry, finding the lost hiking boot in the sea of stink that is the bin of shoes, pitching in makes your world a better place.
3. A deck of cards can go a long way. “52 cards can make so many games!” says one kid before another bursts in about the importance of the joker in one of our family’s favorites. We spend a portion of every day or night huddled around the table, taking turns choosing the game. (Someday I will achieve my ultimate goal of teaching them pinochle.)
4. Nature is pretty nice, and so are pools. When your options are limited, you’ll find that the great outdoors is actually pretty great. We skipped so many stones one evening that all of us woke up with sore shoulders. But the value of a clean pool should not be underestimated, especially in the heat of the summer when mom and dad don’t feel like skipping stones or playing cards.
5. We waste a lot of stuff at home. “I wonder how much water we waste every day?” one wonders as another kids gets scolded while letting it run while teeth were being brushed.” I let them duke it out, just happy that they were actually brushing their teeth.
I hope that they learned other things, too. Like how you can’t put a price tag on being able to wake up the sound of a river bubbling by, or how a hot slice of pizza after hiking almost ten miles can change your life, or how these days spent in the wilderness with your family playing cards and wearing dirty clothes can make the most wonderful memories.
Originally written 7.10.16