You can find beauty around you, even in the midst of frustration. Sometimes you just have to look for it.

That’s been the case with my recent camping experiences.

But let me step back.

I started camping when I was a kid. My parents took us in the summers and we met up with my aunts, uncles and cousins.

We spent endless hours at the beach, climbing sand dunes and jumping the waves. We ran from campsite to campsite, playing games and laughing. Older cousins set up scavenger hunts for us in the woods. At night we’d sit by the campfire, roasting marshmallows and singing songs as my uncle played his guitar.

And even though that was before everyone carried smartphones – or owned cordless phones, for that matter – it felt like we were in a beautiful little bubble, enjoying nature far from the outside world.

Years later, my husband Chris and I got into camping and backpacking, reconnecting with our love of the outdoors. Eventually though, for whatever reason, we put our camping equipment on the shelf.

Then we had our two boys, who are now nine and four. Last summer we decided it was time to introduce them to camping.

The first trip was a bit rocky, truth be told.

It took a while to get into the groove and figure out what equipment to pack, food to bring, kids’ supplies and activities to have on hand, and how to set things up.

Plus we got a late start. We didn’t get to the campsite until 9pm or so, then tried to quickly to set up our tent and supplies before dark as the boys jumped up and down in excitement – and then boredom – as they waited for us. They were finally in bed at 11pm.

Our littlest was so excited to find out what “camping” was all about that he woke at 5am. He bounced around our sleeping bags, pleading loudly to go outside. Tired from the day before, we were not ready to get up. He managed, however, to find the car keys and pressed the alarm button – in an otherwise silent campground. Sigh. So I got up.

We had a number of kinks to work out on that first trip, but had fun regardless. The boys loved exploring the woods, being outside all the time, having campfires and playing at the beach.

And by the second and third trips, we were hooked.

We decided to continue the adventure this year. Our first trip was a few weeks ago.

Armed with a trusty packing list that was hard-earned through last year’s trials and errors, we managed to pull everything together and not-so-gently pack it into our vehicle. We headed out on the road, brimming with excitement and optimism for a relaxing 5-day trip ahead. After all, we’d done this a few times before, so this time was bound to be amazing, right?

All in all, it was amazing.

It’s kind of funny though. We spent so much time prepping, packing, loading, unloading, setting up, tearing down and dealing with rain, gale-force winds and lots of whining and brotherly arguments – that my husband and I were left feeling rather spent.

But it was worth every second.

Because in the midst of all that, we laughed, explored, enjoyed the sunshine (and even the rain) and had great campfires. We relaxed, unplugged, spent quality time together, played with new friends and hung out at the beach. And we went into the nearby town for ice cream (and coffee!), poked around in the woods, saw fireflies and enjoyed a gorgeous sunset.

Chris and I got to hear countless deep belly laughs (my favourite kind) from the boys, and our trip was filled with amazing little moments that were irreplaceable.

And over the weekend we watched our boys grow up just a little bit more.

I’m reminded that whatever situations I encounter – frustrating or fantastic – I can find amazing, beautiful moments to appreciate, when I take the time to notice. And those are the moments that truly matter.

Originally posted on The Wellness Universe.


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