Thursday, June 7, 2012

Lessons Learned from Camping

We are a unique family. People have been telling us that since we got married. We’re not that family where Dad goes golfing, out with his buddies, and works in the barn while Mom has her nails done and goes out for lunch… or whatever it is “normal” people do. We don’t really have individual interests; we have family interests. We go almost everywhere humanly possible together. Our interests are those that we can share as a family- like camping, snorkeling, fishing, crafts.  As parents, we’ve rarely had babysitters and “date nights”. We’ve chosen to spend our free time with the people who are most important to us: our children. 
Our values are very specific and family centered. It seems like “normal” society has become a hotbed of things we don’t really care for our children to be exposed to at this age. It seems like young kids today are talking about and engaging in behaviors that are more suited to middle or high school. The stories and jokes I’ve heard from kids under the age of twelve make me cringe, and we’re talking about a rural area, not some big metropolitan city. Not exactly the topics, attitudes, or actions we choose for our children to emulate. We also have issues with the pressure piled upon children in schools. Topics you may have learned in high school are being taught in elementary school. In some areas, too much pressure is placed upon kids to pass a test and meet standards. Kids don’t get to learn for the joy of learning; they learn something because it’s on the test. And then there’s the pressure of time, hurrying here and there, never really having time to enjoy each other.

Camping allows us the opportunity to spend our time together in a fun environment. We’re able to model and teach important values through life lessons at the camper. Our kids learn togetherness; they learn how to get along in a confined space. They learn patience, perseverance, and the importance of a job well done as they participate in Industrial Arts 101 and put together a grill or fix a bike with Dad. They learn integrity, doing right when no one is looking, when properly dispose of our trash and discuss sticky situations on a walk. They learn environmental stewardship when we walk and pick up 50 pounds of other people’s litter.  They learn life skills like cooking, grilling, checking tire pressures, using tools, or reading a map. They learn minimalism: you can only cram so much stuff into a camper, and if something comes in, something else must go out. You don’t need nearly as much stuff as you think you do. They learn about, shall we say, touchy subjects, from their parents, not on the playground or in a locker room. They learn to relax, to appreciate the wonders of nature. They learn to make friends, to be social and assertive in meeting new pals around the campground. They learn to play, to really be children for as long as they can. They learn patriotism, as we visit national treasures and historic sites.
This is why we plan to hit the road, to live our dream, full-time.
What other lessons do your kids learn from camping?

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