Lessons Learned While Camping

2009_07Jul_2047For our vacation this year, we went camping in North Carolina near where I would go when I was a boy.  I have fond memories of camping there and I wanted to share it with my family.  Unlike our previous camping trip last year, the weather was less than ideal:  it rained. A lot.

If you know anything about camping, is that rain don’t mix.  It multiplies the work and minimizes your options.  The whole point of camping is that you’re going to be outside the whole time.  And when it’s raining–you don’t want to be outside.  You also have to dry out your gear, so if you stow it wet, You’ll have to get it out and dry it out, so it doesn’t get mildewy for the next time.  Definitely a royal pain.

2009_07Jul_2050

However, the trip was a success, because I learned some things about myself and about vacationing with my family that I wouldn’t have learned otherwise.  Here they are in no particular order:

  • You can’t relive your memories.  Although we were able to go to a number of places that I went when I was a boy, it wasn’t the same.  The places had changed and I had changed.  And my family didn’t always appreciate being dragged down my memory lane.  But my biggest fault was thinking I could navigate from memory, and we ended up struggling just to find the places that I had remembered.
  • It’s not about doing, it’s about teaching.  The first night, the boys wanted a camp fire, so I built a camp fire and they watched.  But my wife pointed out that they needed to learn that “building a camp fire” skill.  So I let ~D~ and ~K~ each have a turn at building the camp fire, and was amazed at how much pride they took in the task.  It made me realize that I’m robbing them by not teaching.  I’ll have to look for more opportunities like this in the future.
  • Things work out best when you make plans and stick to the plans, irregardless of the weather. Weather was definitely an issue.  And when we tried to make (outside) plans, the weather constantly interfered. This was frustrating and discouraging.  But then when we went ahead and did what we planned to do anyway (i.e. like white water rafting), we had a good time anyway,  even though the weather didn’t cooperate.
  • It’s all about attitude.  It was amazing to me how much my attitude affects the family.  When I was cheerful and cracking jokes, the rest of the family seemed at ease and laughing and joking.  When I was grumpy and frustrated with the weather, then it seemed like everybody was affected.  This is definitely true in other situations.
  • Camping is a lot of work, no matter how you slice  it. This is something that I don’t remember when I was a boy.  Camping seemed a lot easier then…
  • It’s best if you keep your firewood dry. (No duh.)

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