I struggle with anxiety
When I say that, I mean, I really struggle with anxiety. Specifically, I worry about my health and am at times convinced I have cancer / heart disease / kidney disease etc. I’m a closet hypochondriac. This causes me to fear a lot. My greatest fixation of that fear is my health, because I’m most afraid of dying before seeing my kids grow up, or afraid of not seeing them grow up. This is a very real and gripping fear for me.
Winters are always harder. Last winter was especially difficult, and while I was dealing with my fears, my wife counseled me to fight it and be proactive about living my life in spite of my fears. That really resonated with me, so I asked the question, “How would I live my life if I knew it were ending early?”
I thought about what we would do if we really wanted to live intentionally, if we wanted to be close with our kids. So I decided, we would camp for a full month.
Well, first let me say, I mean camping in a camper, not in a tent. I couldn’t tent camp comfortably with 3 kids in the summer for a month. That wouldn’t make for good “family time”. We had purchased a 2006 Viking Pop-up in 2016, so we decided we’d really put it to the test and see if we could live in it for a full month.
Our itinerary was 3 states, 5 campgrounds, and revisiting all my childhood memories with my kids.
Writing this now, I realize how we didn’t even understand how great this process would be for our family. I’m sitting here, after taking this month-long camping trip.
Camping for a month was the best thing we ever did, and I truly believe that our family is far better for it. For these reasons:
We eliminated distractions
At home, I am tripping over the kids toys and frustrated about how much stuff we have. When we went camping in a tiny, 12 foot pop-up camper, they didn’t even play with the toys we brought (apart from the bikes).
We connected with nature
Norah came alive. We think she’s our future ranger. In fact, after our trip we decided to be intentional about taking advantage of every park service’s Junior Ranger program. Our kids played in the streams, fished in ponds, rode bikes on trails and LOVED the time we spent.
We were close (both in proximity and in spirit)
For that month, we were together. Always. We went from a minivan to our Honda Pilot (which our kids refuse to refer to any other way) with the kids in the back seat, and we got so used to it that when we came home, and they got back in the minivan, we felt like the were so far away. We lived in a TINY space, but we never felt like we were on top of one another. Again, when we came back, we commented on how far away the kids are from us when we’re home. We love our home, but in this time we were so close and realized we didn’t need as much of a house to be close.
We had an adventure
Many people say “some day we’ll do this or that…”, but we simply put a when on that. In June, we’ll camp for a month. June 1st, we’ll go to western North Carolina. The second week of June, we’ll explore the mountains of Tennessee. We had an adventure and didn’t put it off; and that may have been the most rewarding decision we have made in a long time.