When we moved to Colorado and the girls had gotten a little bit older, I was faced with what seemed like a pretty simple question from some new-found friends.
“Do you want to go camping?”
As a somewhat outdoorsy guy who sees outdoor experiences as important to the little ones, my answer was a resounding, “Of course!”.
Little did I know what a chain reaction this one decision would set into motion.
I really had no idea just how much gear it apparently takes to survive outside of my house for one night (in relative comfort).
Just to fast forward for a second, after two years of slowly accumulating gear and spending a rather unbelievable sum of money, I can now leave my house for 24 hours without having to head over to REI first.
This gear includes sleeping bags, tents (yes plural, I had one before kids and needed to up-size), folding chairs, a stove, hammocks, a bin of cooking utensils, cooler, bear spray, and thick enough sleeping pads to get a solid 30 minutes of sleep sometime around sunrise.
And I store all of this gear for two or three trips a year!
It’s unbelievable. And unbelievably expensive. You could definitely stay in a hotel for less.
Of course, certain elements, like the weather dictate your needs. It will hit freezing or even snow in the middle of summer in the Rockies. It happened to my daughter and I while camping in August.
And I find that I’m unwilling to rent most camping gear. I’ll sleep in my own dirt thank you very much.
Why didn’t I say NO?
But the real question is, what if I had just said “No, I don’t camp.”
That’s what my wife would have said (and generally does say when the topic comes up).
If I had just said no to camping none of that gear is needed. Two or three shelves, about a quarter of all my shelf space, would be empty. Money back in the bank account.
And what about the love. Do I love camping? Do my kids love camping? Well, “love” may be bit of a stretch.
We face decisions like this all the time. Seemingly simple choices that end up requiring all sorts of time, money, space, and mental investment.
Trust me, about halfway through acquiring all of this gear I really began to wonder if it’s worth it.
Is it time to throw in the towel on camping?
So am I going to sell the camping gear, get rid of one hobby, and declutter that section of the garage?
I could just say, “No, I don’t camp.” Plenty of people have gone that route.
I’ve thought about it, but the answer for now is no.
It’s all about experiences.
It’s been really interesting to see how the world is slowly catching on to the fact that life is all about experiences, not stuff.
However, some experiences require stuff. Generally my favorite ones do. Finding a balance between the two is what this whole journey is about for me.
This gear allowed for one of the best, most memorable experiences I have had with my kids. Trust me, it didn’t come on the first try. It took some trial runs, but we nailed it.
The perfect camping trip.
Additionally, thinking back as I write, I realize that there are a lot of times where we use this gear without it being a big ordeal – popping up a tent in the backyard or throwing down a pad and sleeping on the patio out under the stars.
The girls use them at sleepovers, and camping trips are common in schools here.
Every summer I set a goal to sleep outside a bit more. I don’t sleep well, but I really enjoy it anyway. Maybe with enough practice I’ll get used to it. But, honestly, what is more minimal than that?
The weather here is perfect for it and there are plenty of bears and mountain lions in the neighborhood to keep you on edge. Does it really matter that you are in your backyard if you can hear a bear rummaging in the garbage twenty feet away?
It’s a great reboot, thankfully I’ve got the gear to make it happen.
Now I’m the guy who asks if people want to go camping.
I also let friends who just moved here know not to buy anything. They can borrow mine anytime!!!