Friday, May 29, 2015

The Call of the Wild

As long as I can remember, I have always loved camping. There is something peaceful and refreshing about getting out in nature, hearing the breeze blow through the trees, the chirping of birds and kids playing in the campground. Some of the strongest memories of my childhood were the camping trips we went on with family and when my brother and I were in the YMCA Indian Guides (now known as Adventure Guides). Whether it was going to the mountains or riding in the desert, it was always special. 

I remember being around 5 years old and my dad packing us all up in our station wagon and heading up to the local mountains in California. We had this big olive green canvas tent that looked like something out of M*A*S*H. We slept on the ground or on old army cots with wooden legs and trying to figure out how to unfold them was something akin to solving a Rubik's Cube. We ran around at night with the army flashlights that looked like a periscope. I remember my dad filling the Coleman stove with white gas and pumping the plunger a bunch of times before you could light it up. As a kid, these were fun times but you don't really think about how special those times were, you just took them for granted. 

Now, as an adult, those memories are very special to me. I love reminiscing at family gatherings at all the adventures my Dad gave us growing up. He was and still is one of the smartest men I have ever known and it seemed like he could do anything. Sometimes I wonder what his feelings at the time were when we went camping. Was camping with 3 kids and their friends stressful? When we first started camping, we did not have the modern conveniences or the products that set up so quick and easy like we do today. It was only later that he would buy a Camper that sat on his truck (and we had lots of memories in that for sure as well). However, for me, as soon as I pull into a site, I can feel stress melting away. I can forget about the daily hustle/bustle of work and life. It does not matter what else is going on in the world because for that weekend, it all just stops.
The sounds of a breeze through the trees or a babbling creek, this is the call of nature, the call of the wild. It's about letting go of the now and getting close to nature, going on hikes, riding bikes through a campground, going swimming in a lake or just sitting around a crackling fire. Our soul has a desire, a need to mend itself. Nature, in all its beauty can be the perfect medicine. 

In some ways, camping is a spiritual experience. Sadly enough, too many people are not taking the time to enjoy the wonders around them. We have a tremendous National Park System and every state in this union has their own state park system where camping is affordable and accessible. In addition to these, there are thousands of private campgrounds full of amenities for all walks of life. There really is no reason not to take advantage of these opportunities and see the natural wonders around us.

It is too easy to get caught up in the daily routine of life and forget about how camping can make you feel. For over 10 years I had not camped, it was too much hassle, took up the whole weekend, it did not leave me time to get things done around the house...there was always an excuse. It got to a point where we just stopped thinking about it.

Well, it's time to stop making excuses and get out and relive some of those childhood memories. Don't let the routine of life drag you down so that you can't get back up. Get out, get energized. It's time to mend your soul. 

What are your fondest camping memories from your childhood? Please share in the comments below.

Hope to see you round the campground, 
Jay T. 
Some images used in this post provided under Creative Commons License