Last week, we had the pleasure of a four day camping adventure in the Kootenays with our daughter Margo and granddaughter Laura. After the excitement of evicting spiders from the Boler, making sure supplies were up to scratch and tires checked, we headed down the road to Vernon, turned east and meandered up Highway 6 on a gorgeous summer day. We took the little cable ferry at Needles to cross Arrow Lake and as always, wound up chatting with a Boler fan. (Our Boler is a people magnet!)
We arrived in Nakusp in plenty of time to set up for supper and receive our treasured guests. Fortunately, there were no campfire bans in the Nakusp area so S’Mores were still on the menu.
If you haven’t camped with a five year old for a while, it’s time. We are blessed to be within a couple of hours drive to visit our little grandchildren and have been able to watch them develop into funny, considerate, wildly active and sometimes blunt people.
Laura was no exception and soon we were receiving hugs, answering rapid-fire questions and giving a demonstration on how to use the porta-potti. We marvelled at how many beach toys, campsite toys and other pieces of equipment come with a five year old. Poor Mom!
Later that evening when the fire was dying out and Laura had fallen asleep, I remembered the camping trips I had taken with my children and then of course, the ones my parents had taken my brother and I on. Of course the camping gear changed over time, gradually becoming more sophisticated. But whether it was a tent and an old Coleman two burner stove, a tent trailer which allowed one to sleep up off the damp ground or a little Boler with LED lights and an electric refrigerator, the excitement and pleasure was always present.
I remembered an evening in a Manitoba provincial park with my parents where I learned of the power of nature. A fearful storm tore through the campground and blew over several tents. A couple of trees were uprooted and although no one was hurt, it was overwhelming for me. I can still see those huge trees swaying in the wind. I remembered my father’s tales of my grandparents homesteading on the prairies and thought of them living through wild weather, both summer and winter.
When I took my own children camping, what delighted me was their fascination with natural phenomena. The only time I saw my son sitting still was when he was patiently trying to entice a chipmunk to take a cracker from his hand. That particular trip we hiked through a spectacular area with cacti, snakes and lizards and with views to infinity. How can that not indelibly impress on a child the awesome quality of nature? Of course the wasp sting he received later that afternoon may have put a bit of a damper on things but that too is a lesson about the natural world.
Our visit with Margo and Laura was equally memorable. As a matter of fact, Laura commented to her mother, “This is the best camping trip ever!” Being five years old, there have only been a few to compare with but it pleased me no end that she was enjoying herself. Her involvement was complete and like most children her age, she was living in the moment and soaking up the experiences with grace and ease.
Her life is more scheduled than her mom’s was at that age and I believe with all my heart that it is even more important than ever for little ones (and bigger ones too!) to be given chances to explore the natural world and to build memories and tell stories that they can pass on to their children. I don’t want to sound pessimistic but I do fear that we could lose our connection with the natural world. I believe it has healing qualities when we engage with it. Hopefully you have a little one in your life that you can take for a walk in the forest and pass on a story or two. It’ll make your day.