Have you ever been camping or made a trip out into the woods? What was your first experience like? I’ll never forget mine. I’ve been camping countless times now, and even though my first trip to the woods wasn’t tent camping, it still left a lasting impression. Here’s what I learned then, along with a few suggestions on places to start if you’re thinking about camping or just getting out into nature now.
Memories of my first trip take me back to Mexico. I was 9 or 10 years old. My parents packed up the truck with food, bedding, and dishes and we headed out on our adventure. My parents’ friends had invited us many times to stay at their cabin at Los Azufres, The Sulphurs, a forested area in the state of Michoacan, and we were finally going.
Along with two other families, we made it to the cabin in the heart of Los Asufres. The area gets its name, as you may have guessed, from glorious, sulfur, hot springs for submerging weary bodies.
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Three Lessons I Learned Camping
I have vivid, special memories of that first experience in nature. By just closing my eyes, I can see it as if it were yesterday. Particularly, three lessons stuck with me from our trip:
- Nature’s grandness: Even so young, I remember both the tall fir trees and the clear lakes we passed along the way. Most of all, I remember inching my tingling feet into those mysterious, bubbling, hot springs. I felt awed by the powerful heat source that lay just below. What did I learn? I learned nature can capture our attention and force us to forget the daily routines and troubles of life. What’s more, nature’s vast beauty made me feel small, while still feeling privileged to have a place in it.
- Unlimited Play: I remember playing with 10 other kids. We played on the second floor of the cabin, we played outside in the forest, we played everywhere. Later, we all played board games together. Most of all, I remember the smell of the fireplace, the sound of authentic laughter, and the feeling of true happiness. What I learned was freedom from distractions allowed my parents to sit and play with us. They enjoyed their time with us, which made me happy both for them and for my brothers and me.
- The Happiness of Togetherness: Clearly, the magic happened at the intersection of nature, family and friends. Nature was the setting. Laughter and togetherness set the mood. Taking morning walks together with family and friends, slipping into the hot springs, sitting around the campfire, singing songs, telling stories, roasting marshmallows, and watching the fire glow, filled us all with a sense of peace and well being that’s both hard to describe and hard to beat. What I learned at 9 years old was simple things make us happy.
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These are just three reasons to go out into the woods. Years have passed since my first adventure, and I’m pleased to see how these basic truths haven’t changed. In fact, I’ve discovered even more reasons to go now. My first childhood experience helps me my boys’ experience when they go out into the woods. In turn, that encourages me to take them even more.
For these reasons and for so many other, I encourage you to take your family, or a group of friends, and go out into the woods. Search nearby for the many wonderful places to see. If you can, take the time to break away from your normal routine and spend a day or two enjoying in all, nature, your family, your friends, and yourself.
Not sure where to start? I recommend searching the internet for “National Parks” followed by your country’s name, or checking with the Ministry of Tourism in your country or state. If you live in the United States, like me, I hope the following links will help you get started on your own adventure:
When are you going?