When I was a little girl, like most kids of the 80's, I went camping with my family...A lot. We would pack up the big yellow suburban full of children and gear, and head to the mountains. We didn't have air mattresses, cots, or any kind of camping trailer. The 9 of us shared a tent, shared the responsibilities, and continue to share close relationships with each other.
Although at the time I may have yearned for a mattress and air conditioning, that's not what I remember. What I do remember are the moments that taught me what being a family is really about:
As the world evolves to be a world surrounded by convenience and comfort, the novelty of untouched nature goes unnoticed. Let your kids discover the feeling of dirt between their toes and the simple satisfaction of throwing pebbles in the water. Teach your kids about animals in their natural habitat; quietly watch the birds or follow the bugs along their journey. Climb the tallest tree and feel the breeze on your face. Nurture their respect for nature.
Disconnecting from the world
Our children have never known a world without internet, cell phones, or instant access to all the things. Technology is incredible and important, but the relationships we create with our families are vital. Take out the earbuds and listen to the crickets chirp. Put down the video games and go on a nature walk. Put aside all of those distractions and experience what is left; the pure connections you make with your soul.
Connecting with each other
You've all seen that group of people hanging out together; heads down, eyes glued to their phones, probably texting each other instead of talking. Maybe you've even been a part of that group. Human connection is just not what it used to be. Camping is a great excuse to leave every distraction behind and focus on your family. Watch your kids' eyes light up as they discover a mysterious cave. Point out constellations as they fall asleep in your arms. Memorize the freckles on your daughter's sun-kissed face. Hold your son tight before he thinks you're not cool anymore. Cherish every bit of your family before time is gone.
Connecting with God
One of the best ways to feel of God's love is to surround yourself with His creations. The world is full of natural beauty. And without distractions, it's nearly impossible not to feel that happy, peaceful feeling you get when you are encompassed by the tall trees, magnificent mountains, and the rushing river. Be still. Become aware of every aspect of nature God has given us to enjoy.
These things are so important for our kids, as well as ourselves. Each of us needs to slow down and appreciate our beautiful world. Camping serves as a great reminder of the comforts we enjoy at home. Hot water, electricity, modern technology; I wouldn't want to live without them. But in the end, the one thing I COULDN'T live without is my family.