This last week my family and I went on a camping trip at Toronto Lake. We stayed in cabins that overlooked the water and basically had a secluded cove to ourselves. Growing up, my four older siblings and I were blessed to be able to go on camping trips as often as my parents could take us in the summers. There are some people who have never gone camping, people who hate camping, and people who don’t understand going somewhere to sleep outside. I never saw camping like that.
It may not be the fanciest of vacation choices but what it comes down to is having the right people with you. Every morning this last week my siblings and parents were up before 7 a.m. sitting around the smokey campfire with coffee in hand. No alarms set. No one to look good for. Just people who you feel comfortable and secure with. People you want to lay and watch the stars with and wake up to watch the sunset with.Some of my best childhood memories are from camping trips. Helping my brothers bait their hooks for fishing, riding my bike around campsites, making smores, and swimming in lakes that contained catfish the size of cars (in my eight year old self’s imagination). This year we were blessed to be able to stay in charming and cozy cabins, a step up from sleeping on the ground with only nylon fabric to keep out those random thunderstorms. That wasn’t the only difference.
Camping as a kid and camping as an adult are two entirely different things. Everything is not as new and exciting as it was when we were little. That is why I am so grateful for my five nephews that helped me witness that new and exciting feeling again on this camping trip. Seeing them out on kayaks and taking walks with their grandparents. Having them tell me they’ll make smores, for everyone else first before they make one for themselves. That childhood sweetness and aim to please the people you care about. In a lot of ways kids can be selfish which is natural part of being a child. But the amount of times they choose to be selfless for nothing in return but to make someone else happy, that is something to learn from. The random hugs around the waist and even the jokes at my expense made me realize how important these moments are. They won’t always want to play cards with me or sit on my lap. Soon they’ll be too busy making their own way into adulthood.
Camping trips are about the simplicity. Slowing down and taking the time to really look at the people you love. Hearing stories you’d never heard before, singing songs you all know the words to, taking hikes that ended up 11 miles longer than planned but you make it back to camp in one piece by the grace of God. You don’t need an itinerary, gourmet meals, or five-star hotels to have a memorable vacation. Are those things nice and would I take advantage of them if I had the money? Probably. But there is a reason we grew up the way we did and made the best of it. I have seen it make my family into humbled, appreciative, and hardworking human beings that enjoy time spent with the people God blessed us to be connected to our entire lives.
The last morning of the trip my brothers and I got up at 5 a.m., made coffee, and headed to watch the sunrise near where we had previously hiked a few days before. I sat wrapped in a blanket watching my brothers find good spots to take pictures for when the sun came over the horizon. My dog ran off to explore the quiet woods and I watched the water reflect the rapidly changing colors of the morning sky. We got to watch a doe walk quietly through the woods across the bridge from us. Simplicity. In many ways the most simple things in life are the most stunning and the most valuable.