This I Believe
I believe in camping.
I believe in collecting gear in shades of khaki and brown, planning the meals, packing the car and road tripping it to my favorite campsites. There’s something exciting about setting up your won tent, putting the chairs around the campfire circle and laying out the 5 year old, royal blue with fishes tablecloth, salt and pepper shakers and blue and white speckled enamelware dishes. I love the moment it’s all set up. You’re sweaty, your hands are covered in sap and pine needles, and your feet, through your flip flops are dusted with a fine layer of soft brown dirt. This is your home. You made it. It’s all yours, until you check out by noon on the day of your departure. Let the camping begin!
When I was growing up in urban California, camping was a rare, once yearly pilgrimage. My dad went all out, with steaks and corn on the cob. The tent was huge and required the help of the whole family to put up. I can hear my dad’s strict warning to always use a stick to check for snakes under any rock we sat on. Then we were free. My brothers and sisters and I would run dangerously wild and unsupervised through the wild Sierra Nevada wilderness, looking for water, finding it, then daring one another to take the plunge. We all did. An icy cold glacier run off that made you heart stop and took the breath right out of you. I’ve never been the same since.
My favorite part of the camping trip is the food. Pancakes and sausage in the morning, trail mix, pb&j and sun warmed Oreos for lunch and there’s nothing like hot dogs cooked on a stick, charred to perfection, with baked beans to boot. Of course, the piece de la resistance is the s’more. Hershey’s chocolate sandwiched between a hot gooey marshmallow and graham crackers, my children, already clean and in their pajamas, sticky faces smiling, sticky hands touching once undefiled surfaces. With camping everything and nothing is sacred. You’re dirty, you smell like campfire, your hair is stiff from lack of washing and you’re sitting at the throne of God.
I believe in camping. Sharing nature with my children, teaching them how to properly ride a rapid without getting too bruised up, singing silly songs at the top of our lungs until we’re hoarse, watching my kids go from the newborn in the car seat on the picnic table to the adolescent building the perfect log cabin fire, passing on the legacy to my children that my father left me, knowing it will pass from them on and on and on…This, I believe.
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