I know several grandparents who have experienced camping with their children and grandchildren. All of them expressed the joy of passing on the liberating experience of camping to their descendants, whose opportunities for learning appreciation and reverence for nature continue to diminish over time. Getting out of our urban cities to dwell in nature for a few days seems to free our souls. We leave behind our to-do lists and the technology that drives so much or our waking hours, replacing it with the freedom to soak in a deep, satisfying peace. We are released from our daily routines, free to explore and discover without restrictive agendas governing our daily lives.
I suppose the most obvious benefit of camping is learning an appreciation for “being” outdoors. Understanding the complexity of the natural world, and its delicate ecological balance that we so often disrupt, sometimes irrevocably, helps us to see our stewardship role in the world God gave us. When we witness firsthand the distinctly awesome birds, animals, and plants that live together in unique harmony, we can better understand why their eventual depletion or even extinction is a tragedy, usually with bad consequences for the people who follow in our footsteps. We become more complete human beings that can advocate for all things wild when developers blindly push for projects that are driven by pure economics.
There are other benefits to camping. Learning to work as a team to accomplish tasks like setting up and tearing down camp, preparing meals, and cleaning up afterward is valuable to all involved. Clearly teamwork is necessary in an urban environment, but in nature, where nothing gets done without the effort of the campers themselves, the sense of inter-dependance is more immediate and profound. Camping also builds a sense of self-reliance, a confidence that we can solve problems using our collective ingenuity. What does one do when the ground is so hard-packed and riddled with rocks that every other tent stake is uselessly disfigured by the pounding of the flat-end of an axe, leaving the tent unsecured? What is to be done when you discover that a specific tool like a can opener is forgotten at home and dinner remains locked within the tin?
Learning to understand and embrace nature, that it is not to be feared and avoided, develops a sense of character and confidence that can carry into other aspects of our lives. I am pleased that my grown children enjoy the outdoors like I do, and that they are ensuring their children, nieces, and nephews are exposed to the wonder of all that nature offers in a way that develops them into more complete human beings.
I hope you can sense my liberating joy reflected in the following photos and their captions. This was my eldest grandson’s first overnight camping trip, and he tackled it like a champ. His dad, Tom, and uncle, Brian, helped to plant the seed that should produce fruit to come. We set our tent in the Lake View Campground of Cave Lake State Park, and used the two days to explore and make adventuresome memories.
Cave Lake State Park
Ely’s Northern Nevada Train Museum
Cathedral Gorge State Park
I have mentioned before that we have a family picture in our foyer that has this Bible verse printed on the matting:
Children are a gift from the Lord; they are a reward from him. Children born to a young man are like arrows in a warrior’s hands. How joyful is the man whose quiver is full of them! He will not be put to shame when he confronts his accusers at the city gates.