Five Things Camping Can Teach Us About Life

In this episode:

Have you ever had a rustic camping adventure? In this episode, I talk about the time when worms rained from the trees at our campsite, and I give five life application tips that I've learned from camping.

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Inspired Life

Over the years, our family made a lot of memories while camping. Many summer weekends we would pack up and head to a state park for a few days.

I didn’t love it as much as my guys. Being the only girl in a family of guys, they prefer things a lot more rustic.

To me, there was something backwards about loading up all that gear, driving for six hours, and setting up our tent camper for another two hours just to get away from real life. Some aspects of real life appealed to me. Like showers. Running water. Air conditioning. I liked my curling iron and my dishwasher too.

My idea of roughing it still involves flush toilets and electricity. On one of our camping trips we went to a state park that spanned the St. Croix River between Wisconsin and Minnesota. It was a beautiful park with many hiking trails and a sandy beach at a little swimming hole for the kids.

We pulled in long before daylight faded and started to set up our antique pop-up camper. I know it’s antique because I camped in it when I was an infant and it had been around for a while already then. Besides, a similar camper to ours resides in the Smithsonian.

This was a primitive camper with two plywood sides that flip out and a bunch of tent poles that had to be assembled and attached to the box frame of the camper. Then, a big green musty-smelling canvas tent covered the whole thing.

When it was all set up, it was a box with a double bed on both sides and a tent over the top. That’s it. Just a tent off the ground. No kitchen. No storage or cabinets. No bathroom. Because of the age of the canvas, we usually covered the whole thing with a big blue plastic tarp strung up in the trees.

After Phil backed the camper into just the right spot, we started setting up. I busied myself with setting up lawn chairs around the fire pit and creating a cooking space at the picnic table.

I was about to toss the plastic tablecloth over the rustic picnic table when a fuzzy worm inched its way toward the middle. Then I noticed another one. There was one on the bench too, and when I looked over to say something to Phil, there was one on the camper.

I soon realized the camper and the Jeep and the lawn chairs had caterpillars all over them. That’s when I noticed it was raining worms. Like big fuzzy green raindrops, tent caterpillars fell from the trees.

I got back in the Jeep and said, “I’m not coming out.”

“Can we please run to the Wal-Mart I saw a few miles back? I just need to buy a hat. I don’t want these stupid worms in my hair.”

One morning I laid in the bed watching the silhouettes of worms on the tent roof. Eeew!

Life, Repurposed

Camping pushes me outside of my comfort zone. Way outside of it. But it has taught me some life lessons that give me a new perspective.

  1. It’s Hard Work. Camping is hard work. So is life. Stinky diapers, piles of laundry, runny noses, spit-up, and colicky babies are hard work. Jobs are hard work. Relationships take work. Doing what’s right for our marriage takes work.
  1. Worms Fall Sometimes. Life doesn’t always go the way we planned. Sometimes, we have the perfect scene all planned in our minds, and then worms start to fall from the trees. Life isn’t always ideal. We all face circumstances that feel awful when we’re in the midst of it. At first, we cower, but then something begins to happen. We figure out a way to cope and get through it.

Scripture talks about trials, disappointments, and difficulties and it doesn’t say “if” we face problems, it talks about when. It also says we are never alone. The prophet Isaiah wrote, “When you go through deep waters and great trouble, I will be with you. When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown! When you walk through the fire of oppression, you will not be burned up; the flames will not consume you. For I am the LORD, your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior” (Isaiah 43:2–3).

  1. Making Do With Less Leads to Contentment. There isn’t anything sinful about being a devoted Christian and having the comforts of life. But when we learn to make do with less than what we think we need, we can grow spiritually.

When we go camping, part of the adventure is functioning without the ease of modern conveniences. Instead of having every utensil known to modern woman in the kitchen drawer, we learn to cook an entire meal with one big stirring spoon and two aluminum pots. There is a sense of satisfaction in being able to do without. And I find it mentally relaxing to experience the simplicity of living from one duffel bag for a weekend.

  1. We Have to Stick Together. When we camp, we work as a team to set up the site, cook meals over the Coleman stove, or get to the top of a hill. If one of us, usually me, drops behind on the trail, we stay together and everyone encourages the straggler.

Too often, in regular life, we’re all running around doing our own thing and we don’t notice that one member of the family needs extra help. I’ve seen this happen with my circle of friends at church as well. I hadn’t connected with one of my friends in a month or two and I assumed she was attending the other service. Then I discovered she had been going through a very difficult time and her husband was in the hospital. It reminded me of how we have to stick together and check up on each other, just as we do when hiking a trail, or setting up camp.

When we stay together, we draw from one another’s confidence and we can build each other up with words of encouragement that assure us we will make it through.

  1. Camping is temporary.

God says we have to camp out here for a while because that’s life. But he has something so much better planned than this primitive shelter. That’s the ultimate trade-up—this flawed earthly existence for a forever home in heaven’s glory.

Recommended Resources

If you have enjoyed this episode, you’ll find the content in chapter 8 of my book, The Repurposed and Upcycled Life: When God Turns Trash to Treasure. This book has humor and observations about life, biblical teaching, and ideas for how to apply the content. Plus, there is a small group Bible study workbook available too. Learn more about the books.


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(Please note: books posted here on my blog are purely because I want to share them. Sometimes I receive free copies for review, and other times I purchase the books. Some I get from the library. Either way, any endorsement I offer here on the blog is simply because I want to talk about the book. ) *This post contains affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, if you click through and make a purchase, I may receive a commission. I sell my ebook via Amazon but I’m also a part of their “Associates” (i.e. affiliate) program which pays a commission on books and any other Amazon products people purchase via my links.

Michelle Rayburn is the author of The Repurposed and Upcycled Life: When God Turns Trash to Treasure, as well as a small group Bible study to accompany the book. Learn more about these and her other books here. A sample chapter of the book and Bible study are available for free download.

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This post contains affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, if you click through and make a purchase, I may receive a commission. I sell my ebook via Amazon but I’m also a part of their “Associates” (i.e. affiliate) program which pays a commission on books and any other Amazon products people purchase via my links.

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