My daughters know the difference between a good babyccino and a bad one. Marshmallows. Obviously.
Something they don’t know is the family fun times of sleeping on the ground or arguing with armies of flies or trying to keep sand out of your cereal bowl.
Camping is about to come the way of my girls, who are two and almost four. To be precise, camping comes their way on the long weekend at the end of January.
Even as a kid, I felt that itch to get back to my proper bed and the familiarity of civilised routine.
My wife Amy and I decided the time had come in their young urban lives to be introduced to taking a break in the great outdoors. Or the not-so-great, depending upon the flies, sand and boot-full of other camping obstacles that are probably awaiting us. And anyone else who is game enough to construct their own temporary accommodation near long-drop toilets and beautiful scenery outside the city.
Amy and I grew up going on camping holidays with our families. But she is way more nostalgic about it than I am. I liked camping with Mum and Dad and my brother and sister – but love would be too strong an accusation against me. Even as a kid, I felt that itch to get back to my proper bed and the familiarity of civilised routine. There was only so much billy boiling and mattress inflating I was fired up about.
I think I’m going camping this long weekend because it’s cheap and – here’s hoping – cheerful.
I can lose sight not just of the majesty of God’s incredible world; I can lose sight of how much he wants me to enjoy it
On the other hand, Amy loves the idea of introducing our children to the wonders of nature, as well as getting to do some inner defrag away from those daily treadmills called hustle and bustle. Her No 1 time for refreshment and revitalisation as a person created by God, living in God’s world, is when she’s back in places wild, raw and eco-riffic. Places that seem to steadily sing of nature’s vastness – the kinds of environments summed up by Psalms 19 or 96.
I know the correct answer is I should want for the same things. Because in the everyday of the everyday, the busy of the busy, I can lose sight not just of the majesty of God’s incredible world; I can lose sight of how much he wants me to enjoy it. Soak it up. Be refreshed by it and linger upon it.
I’m now psyching myself up for sharing the amazingness of whatever small and big stuff you can encounter when not confined to our apartment home. The kind of God-stuff to find joy and praise in, as Psalm 96:12-13 trumpets: “Let the fields be jubilant, and everything in them; let all the trees of the forest sing for joy. Let all creation rejoice before the Lord, for he comes, he comes to judge the earth. He will judge the world in righteousness and the peoples in his faithfulness.”
At very least, I should aim to not see our first family camping trip as an opportunity to pack the car better than my dad did. My dad is a superb packer of the boot. But I’m better.