My parents like to tell the stories of me as a pre-teen girl, tagging along on family summer camping trips. Every trip they had to deal with a wild bear. No, not a bear that had emerged from the woods, but the growling and grumbling that can only come from a pubescent girl who detested camping, being outdoors, feeling dirty and using outdoor washrooms. After putting up with this for multiple trips, they stopped asking this girl to come for the later part of her teenage years because she was simply making everyone else's time miserable.
I remember this girl. I feel disconnected from her now, but it hasn't stopped me from remembering how I felt, then. And because of that, I had not been camping since those wretched years. I had been invited numerous times but have always politely declined, believing that those feelings remained. But how thankful I am for a husband whose only request for his 30th birthday was to go camping with friends on his birthday weekend. His excitement over the idea proposed by friends overrode all of the surprises that I was secretly trying to plan and I reluctantly agreed to go along.
The trip ended up surprising me in countless ways and I came back wondering why I had believed that I still embodied that 14 year old self. It's funny how we hold on to bits and pieces of our past that no longer ring true or exist as part of us... I found myself thriving in the camping environment. My imagination was spurred to thoughts of rural living and I realized the simplicity I so often crave could be attained quite easily a few kilometres out of the city. I even found myself being content to go au natural...or not shower. However you want to phrase it, the uncleanliness of being in the woods didn't seem to bother me.
Above all, what struck me the most were the beautiful moments spent in community out in nature. We ended up spending another evening this past weekend with a different collective of friends at their campsite, eating roasted hot dogs and gooey graham cracker-less s'mores. I came away from the evening feeling so full of life, inspiration and connection. Every element of that environment seems to be the perfect combination for fullness- an overflowing cup. I was feeling the beauty of my Maker's handiwork in nature, His people and the friendships that have been formed, and the Person He has gifted to me to be by my side. All the distractions of the city and constant visual noise were replaced by simple joys and complete satisfaction in those tiny moments. I want to hold onto this beauty forever and experience it again and again and again.
**If you are wondering about the strange quality of these pictures, it's because they were all taken with a disposable camera! A new camping tradition, I think.**