This weekend, B and I took the kids for their first ever camping trip. Now, don't get all misty eyed. Stop thinking about backpacks, bear whistles (not this girl!!), canteens, indistinguishable food in vacuum pouches...
We didn't completely "rough it." We rented a pop-up camper from MCCS and headed to the closest state park-- about 20 minutes from home. C was THRILLED at the little "house" and was even more excited that it had air conditioning. Ah, such a girl!! (And don't you even doubt that she HAD to wear a dress or skirt for camping!) After about 30 minutes outside, she decided she wanted to go inside and play Barbies. SIGH! She spent most of her time in the A/C.
M loved playing outdoors, and once he got over the whole "It's dirty!" thing, he was into this camping thing. He loved digging in the dirt, peeing in the bushes, watching the bugs, the dogs, and the people, and being outside with Daddy. He thought our regular "tick checks" were hilarious.
While camping, we rented bikes with a small trailer for the kids. Though we only stayed on the roads within the park, it was a great time. One evening I went for a ride by myself. It was about dinner time and most people were outside of their tents/campers/RV's, sitting or playing outside. Kids were riding bikes all over, people were walking dogs, and some were riding their "fun buggies" (golf carts) through the park. Each time I'd pass a campsite or another person, greetings were exchanged. Everyone seemed relaxed. And then it struck me-- this is a sense of community. Here we all are without TV (though I did see a few in RV's and we're guilty of bringing the portable DVD player), computer, telephones, talking amongst ourselves, visiting, sharing ketchup and whatever else we forgot, and I felt my sense of community restored. Life felt simpler, easier, more enjoyable. I felt my stress at keeping up with the world vanishing. I felt a swell of well being in myself, my family, and my life. I actually heard God's still, small voice encouraging me on. My spirit needed that.
I guess that's why we parents take our kids camping. Not just for the fond memories we recall from our own childhood, but to show our children that this amazing world offers more than TV, computers, toys, toys, toys. To slow down and reconnect with each other, and God. The chance to feel like we are the only family in the world. The chance to depend on one another, listen to one another, play together, just to BE.
Though I'm tired, and the laundry is trailing down the hallway, I wouldn't trade this weekend for anything. It has reminded me what's important in life: being with my family in a close space for an extended period, living simply, living in the now, listening for God's encouraging and supportive voice, and bug spray!