We had cooked over the open fire for supper. Hot ham and cheese sandwiches, fresh fish in oil and seasoning. The fire was going strong, crackling in the night air. The sun was on its way down. It was getting dark but the faint light of dusk lingered. Trees silhouetted but hadn’t disappeared. The dogs were content; we were content.
“Did you go camping growing up?” he asks.
“No, not really.” I reply.
“How did you get into it then?”
“I don’t know. It was just something I wanted to learn how to do so I started doing it.”
A conversation about what we liked about camping ensued as we shared memories and tried to put into words why we camp.
Our first camping trip was a rough one this year. Mishaps and forgotten things; 33 degree weather and a scary hit to the head. Our first trip with two dogs and the added difficulty of that. Yet, that Sunday night we lay in bed (which is always appreciated more after camping) and J says, “I had a really nice weekend with you.”
A slow look. A genuine, “Me too.” A contended drift to sleep.
Our next two camping trips would prove to be our wettest trips ever, even closing us down early on Sunday to head home soaked. And yet, we camp. There’s something about it. The challenge of nature meeting man and who will win. Can you be resourceful? Can we make it away from the convenience of modern life? Can we be unplugged through a weekend?
J and I have some of our best conversations in the context of camping – in the boat, on the long drive, by the fire, in the afternoon after we’ve fished away a day, after reading at our campsite in the late afternoon heat, on the way home. For some reason our hearts and our bodies are comfortable and so are we. We share the deepest parts of our hearts. We take risks. We hold our breath as we wait for responses that often surprise us.
There’s something about not being confined – about wide skies, open waters, long and winding roads, never-ending fires – that lead to thoughtful reflection, bare words, sharing things you’ve been thinking about. There’s something about losing to nature – being soaked wet, fighting cold, catching no fish. Perhaps a reminder of how small we are and still we are invited to dream big, to participate, to try make it in this big ol’ world. A reminder to slow down, to be outside, to connect with those you’re with, to appreciate the conveniences in everyday life – perhaps this is why we camp.