On Father’s Day and camping…

In honor of Father’s Day, I thought I would reflect on a few lessons I’ve learned from my own father in regards to camping.  For the dad’s out there, happy Father’s Day and I hope that you use this weekend to reflect on the immeasurable gifts of fatherhood, and that you are able to share some memorable moments with your kids.

1.  Just Be:  Whether you are preparing your gear for a weekend getaway, setting up your tent, making breakfast, going for a hike, or whatever it is, just be.  Be mindful of your surroundings, be ready to accept things as they come.  Be content with life in the woods, surrounded by bugs or uncomfortable by the heat.  Be grateful for the opportunity to have a new experience with your family, and thankful to leave the world behind while you are doing it.  It will all be there when you get back.  Most of all, be present in the moment.  In a blink of an eye, it could all be over – whenever and wherever you are, be there, and no where else.

2.  On Coffee and Hatchets:   “The coffee is ready when it smells like coffee…“  and “A hatchet is sharp enough when it is sharp enough to do the job you need it to do…“  Being an analyst, the simplicity of these statements was hard for me to process, but what Dad really meant was:  “Son, you need to get out in the woods more often…”.  Point well taken.

3.  On Preparations:  No matter how big your checklist, how thorough your packing job, or how much you “get your OCD on” about your trip, some things will inevitably a) be forgotten, b) not be needed, or c) be able to be re-purposed (my father is the KING of re-purposing).  Whatever the case, it doesn’t really matter.  Be ready to adapt and move on – when in doubt, see Lesson 1, and deal with it.  Camping trips and life are too short to “sweat the small stuff” and both can be made or broken by how you deal with being outside your comfort zone. – adversities will arise.  Just don’t forget the kids!

4.  On Keeping Cool while “Car Camping”:  On our recent camping trip to Petit Jean, I knew we would have electrical service, so I brought our box fan from home.  My dad said he never remembered seeing a fan at a camping site.  I had to chuckle because I first thought to grab the fan after a memory of being constantly parked by it one really hot summer week at Petit Jean.  We were on a trip with my sisters and step-sisters.  Dad had the foresight to know that four teen girls and a boy would not be good company if they were constantly overheated.  Since my own traveling partners are hot-natured, the fan was a must for us, and was a welcome addition to campsite during the day and in the tent at night.  There is also the ‘cowboy air-conditioner’, but that is a topic for another day…

5.  On Racoons:  After being raided by a masked bandit on our recent trip, Dad had these words:    “Heard him rumbling around about 3AM.  I figured if he was crafty enough to break in to the cooler, he could have what was in it.”  Luckily, the clever little robber didn’t make off with the beer.

So there you have it, five lessons I’ve learned from my father on the subject of camping.  Somewhere in there are also five lessons on the subject of  life.  Thanks Daddy/Pops, for your part in making our most recent trip one to remember, and for providing these, and many other lessons throughout the years.  I hope to pass them (and some of my own) on to Joe as we continue our adventures together…

Me, Dad, & Joe - May 2012

Me, Dad, & Joe – May 2012 – Cedar Creek Trail, Petit Jean State Park


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