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Camping Together
Photo: Ben C Beuford
Camping is an inexpensive way to vacation with your family, if you remember to keep your focus on the purpose.

I’m cold. It’s 2:00 a.m. I’m supposed to be asleep, but the blow-up mattress underneath me has lost some of its “blow-up.” My wife is huddled in a ball trying to keep warm. Squinting through the darkness I notice in our tent my other children sleeping quietly. I recall their optimism, “Daddy, camping in April will be so much fun! There will be hardly anyone at the campground and…” And it will be cold.

After crawling out from under my sleeping bag, I don a few clothes and step outside for a moment. I stop awestruck. The star-studded sky brilliantly twinkles like a billion Christmas lights overhead. A raccoon darts across the grounds. A few coals still glow silently in the fire pit.

When I slip back into our tent, I search for a few extra jackets to lay over my sleeping cherubs to make sure they stay warm. Children look so innocent when they are asleep. What are they dreaming about? Hiking around the lake? Catching frogs and turtles? Collecting pinecones? Fishing off the dock? Eating a steaming bowl of oatmeal in the cool morning sunshine at the picnic table?

Investing In Memories

I pull on a sweatshirt, toss a coat over my sleeping wife and crawl back into my sleeping bag. As I lay there, I think to myself, “Why am I so slow to learn?”

Earlier in the week I remember thinking, “Camping? In a tent? Those days are gone. I want a motor home! Besides, the kids won’t have much fun. It will probably rain or be cold.” But the excitement and thrill of surviving seemed to create a joy all by itself!

A teacher in college once told me as I sat on his old living room couch, “We’ve decided to invest in memories instead of things.” How true it is! My children don’t want my “things,” they want me. Just being together in our hectic society is a miracle for many families to accomplish.

No, camping isn’t always fun. There are still bee stings and burnt hot dogs. Sometimes it does rain. But who does it bother the most? (Me.) My kids don’t seem to mind as much as I do. They are happily sleeping on the other side of our Wal-Mart “on-sale” tent.

I give the mattress a few puffs of air to keep us from hitting bottom and then wander into dreamland myself thinking, “It takes so little to be happy.”

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By Curtis Rittenour. Copyright © 2015 by GraceNotes. All rights reserved. Use of this material is subject to usage guidelines.

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