Why you should put everything off and take your kids camping this weekend.
Let me explain with a little story…
It’s been a while since I posted about the “hunting” trip I took with my oldest son for his 5th birthday. My goal was to introduce him to hunting in a safe, fun, and memorable way while hopefully setting the stage for a lifetime of us hunting together. As my second oldest watched the series of events that weekend, he knew that he was “too young” to take the same trip as his older brother. That didn’t stop him from coming up with a bigger and better plan.
“Dad, I want to go on a camping trip for my birthday!” Where my oldest was able to spend a few hours in the woods, our middle son figured out how to get a whole weekend for himself. And, he knew Dad could never turn down an offer like that, right? Right.
So we started planning, Clint (our middle son) was getting excited, and I started getting STRESSED OUT! His world revolved around this camping trip for well over a month. He was planning what we would cook over the campfire, what he would bring to play with in the tent, and how many fish he was going to catch. I, on the other hand, had a wife who was due with our 4th child any day, was working hard to transition to a new job, was trying to maintain our other commitments and barely sleeping. (Oh, and did I mention it was the opening weekend of turkey season!!!)
It would have been an easy out…
My kids are still at the stage where we can pull the “bad news switch-a-roo”. It goes something like, “Hey Clint, it looks like we can’t go camping this weekend, but here’s a bag of candy and a new Wiffle Ball set for you to play with instead!” The emotional outbursts are limited or quickly forgotten, thanks to a shiny new diversion. I could have played that game. Truthfully, I probably should have postponed, seeing as my wife was 9 months pregnant and could go into labor any minute.
But, no. I wasn’t going to do that. Not to Clint, not to myself. Lauren was in favor of us going ahead and we worked hard to make that weekend trip happen. I had friends on standby to come grab our camping gear if I had to head to the hospital for the delivery. My sister-in-law came and stayed with Lauren and the boys so I could be away, and we just made it work.
Thankfully, it did! Our baby girl waited another week to be born, our friends and fam were super helpful, and Clint and I were able to have one of the most memorable weekends of our lives!
In the process I learned some lessons…
None of this is rocket science, but I think it’s enough of a reason that you should probably drop everything and take your kids camping this weekend! Or at least within the next month. Seriously. As a matter fact, you should probably open a new browser window right now and reserve your campsite. It’s easy enough. Go ahead, I’ll wait.
Drop Everything and Go Camping: Because You’re More Important than You Realize.
I felt like I couldn’t be away. My wife was pregnant, I was slammed with more work than I could stay on top of, and it would have been an easy out. But honestly – I realized I’m not that important, at least to the world at large. Everyone and everything got on just fine without me for one weekend. Mainly, I was reminded that I’m much more important as a Dad than anything else.
I wish you could hear my son talk about this tiny Brim we caught together. You would’ve thought it was a record catch. The fishing was awful. Nothing was biting, and we literally only caught this one fish all weekend. But for Clint, it was EPIC. Sitting in that little boat, fishing with his dad, that was important. That’s where I needed to be that weekend. It was a solid reminder that the place I’m truly important is too often the place I can easily neglect.
Drop Everything and Go Camping: Because Yoo-Hoo’s Tastes Better with Hotdogs and S’mores
You probably have odd memory connections like I do. To this day, I still think about my grandpa when I smell pipe tobacco smoke. I still have flashbacks to my dad teaching me how to swing an axe when I’m splitting wood. You have some of those, right? I want my son to have them too. I want a memory of me to sneak up on him from out of nowhere and a smile to cross his face. Maybe, it’ll be whenever he’s drinking a Yoo-Hoo around a campfire with Hotdogs and S’mores…because that’s when they’re the best.
Drop Everything and Go Camping: Because Campfires are Known to Prevent the Wearing of Skinny Jeans.
This is a real thing, I promise. Recent studies have proven that kids who go camping are 81% less likely to grow up and wear skinny jeans*. What are you waiting for? Go, right now. For the love of all things good and descent, GO!
(*I do not promise. This is not a real thing. Surely you know a sense of humor when you hear one, but just in case – disclaimer.)
Drop Everything and Go Camping: Because They Won’t Remember their Best Day Playing Angry Birds.
My son, who absolutely loves to play Angry Birds, didn’t mention the game one time this entire trip. He was too busy pounding tent pegs into the ground, baiting hooks with worms, spinning the lids off of Yoo-Hoo bottles and telling me about how many fish he was going to catch. He had a blast. I had a blast. I hope I never forget that weekend. And selfishly, I hope he never does either.
When I think back on my own childhood, the details of my afternoons playing Zelda and eating Doritos are blurry. What’s not blurry are the days my dad taught me to build work benches, cut down trees, and play guitar. Those things that he invested in me that helped me become a man, those memories are pure gold. I want my son to have those too. He may love angry birds right now, but he won’t remember that when he’s raising children of his own one day. If he’s anything like me, this camping trip is going in the vault. I can just hope it comes back to him with fondness and a smile from time to time.
So, what are you waiting for? Seriously. Drop everything and take your kids camping this weekend!