Why do we bring so much stuff with us when we camp? After speaking to many campers and reflecting on my own experience I think it comes down to one thing – fear.
Leaving the safety of our homes and venturing out into the darkness, without a well-stocked frige, wifi and a locked front door leaves us feeling vulnerable and we worry. We worry about being cold and hungry. We worry about our children being bored and squabbling. We worry that if we are cold, hungry and tired our family won’t get along, maybe we will argue and ‘ruin’ the trip. What if a child gets lost or injured? We deal with this worry by bringing every possible thing we may need, just in case.
Personally, I worry I will be cold and uncomfortable at night and won’t sleep, then will feel awful all day and will be grumpy with my children. I worry that my children will be cold at night, and therefore wake up alot, they might then need a wee and I’ll have to get up at 3am and venture into the freezing night air to take them to the loo and then wonlt be able to get back to sleep. I worry that if none of us have slept well we’ll all feel fed up and won’t enjoy ourselves.
But then, if I think about my life I realise that what REALLY scares me is the idea that I am 45 years old and life is passing way too quickly and that years have rolled by just doing the school run, going to Tesco, working at my computer and sitting on the bloody sofa watching TV. And I worry that these four walls which give us security and safety which cost a fortune and I work so hard to pay for can feel like a self-imposed cage I am unable to break out of.
And I see my kids wanting to do the same, to sit on the sofa watching TV, staring at a tablet, staying indoors because its easy and comfortable and yet I know that every second they are getting a tiny bit older, believing a little less in fairies and pirates and losing the will for wild adventure. And I know that the time when they want adventure with me is right now and it will pass.
And that is when I want to leap up, run away and go camping, to seize an adventure, however small, amongst the time constraints of modern life and the endless demands of parenting and household chores. And to take my children running breathless down a hill in a vast empty field, arms outstretched, laughing. To lay on our backs and watch the clouds, to look for fairies and follow a butterfly, to build a fire on the beach and cook dinner under the stars. To find adventure out there in the great wonderful world together while we still can.
The endless stuff we want to bring with us doesn't actually help at all. One we realise this need to overpack is based on fear, and we face that fear and recognise it, we can take a deep breath and leave that fear behind. Leave it with the swing ball and salad bowls and tear up the enormous list of stuff we don't need. And then open that front door and step outside on the way to adventure.