Summer has completely flown by. It has been an adventure of sorts in regards to our current state of unemployment and our busy travel schedule, but it has been one of growth and strength. We have been focusing on family and making the most of what we have. With only one week left before school starts again we had our final summer adventure to embark upon.
Earlier this year at our school auction we bid on a Family Camp weekend and won. At the end of spring I scheduled our camp session for this August. This past weekend we got to venture out to West Virginia and enjoy a four-day camp experience at Camp Alleghany for Girls. The weekend was just what we needed.
For the past few weeks we’ve had my mother-in-law staying with us for a summer visit. The company is lovely, but in full authenticity, having my husband and kids home for the summer plus the two dogs scuttling around, it’s already a bit crowded – adding a 5th person into the mix at our 850 square foot apartment can get a little tight. Finding ourselves with four days away – out in nature – was a breath of fresh air. And as a bonus, my mother-in-law was able to get her own quiet time at our place, while also watching the pups for us. So hopefully it turned out to be a win-win.
We arrived at camp midday Thursday and took a rowboat across the river to the campsite. The camp was divided into two sections – Senior Camp and Junior Camp. They had the families with younger kids in Junior Camp. Our home for the next few days was an elevated canvas tent with wood floor boards. They had raised beds with mattresses for each of us and a small shelf to put our things. It was perfect. We rolled the canvas flaps up during the day to let in the fresh air and rolled them down during the evening to offer some privacy.
The gaggle of tents created a square and in the middle there were swings, a slide, and tetherball. Almost immediately upon arrival the kids began to run around with the other children as we unpacked and set up our tent. We didn’t bring much – just the essentials. It was quaint and perfect.
The family weekend offered a variety of activities we could sign up for. There was archery, arts and crafts, canoeing, swimming in the river, creaking, hiking, a rifle range, and a few other activities that the kids weren’t quite old enough to engage in. In the mornings we were woken up by the bugle playing Reveille, and in the evening at 10 pm they sounded them again to indicate lights out and quiet time. There was also a break after lunch where the entire camp was resigned to their tents for rest hour. I was impressed with how seriously the attendees respected rest hour and bed time. I’d say that rest hour turned out to be one of our favorite times during camp. Everyone had to be silent, so we would all hang out on our beds reading books or the kids would quietly play a board game. There are very few times in our day-to-day lives that we are able to sit down and read uninterrupted for an hour. Being in our tent with the canvas rolled up, the breeze rolling in, a view of the mountains just to our left and quiet campsite to the right, I found myself in complete peace.
The food options were great as well. They had vegetarian options, gluten-free options, a constant salad bar and different meals each day. They did not disappoint. The kids also loved that they offered various desserts with every meal – and although it is not my normal behavior I certainly let the kids indulge during this vacation.
This weekend also provided us a great opportunity to disconnect from electronics and reconnect as a family. I feel like we are pretty well connected already, but I also admit that we are guilty of using electronics to keep us occupied or perhaps I should say – preoccupied. At the camp we barely touched our phones (the only electronics we brought) and only turned them on for the occasional picture or to check the time – but other than that we stayed totally disconnected. To entertain ourselves we talked to one another, enjoyed nature, worked on crafts, made friends, engaged in the camp activities and read. I almost finished the novel I brought which was such a nice treat. This uninterrupted time to breathe was so necessary. I truly believe that our society underestimates the importance of unplugging.
It was the first time in awhile that I have felt I had the space to really just relax. Devoid of all the responsibilities I normally have, it allowed me to just be. It was such a gift. There were so many times during this trip that we simply laid on our beds reading books and I would turn to my husband and just smile, sometimes mentioning how lucky I felt we were in that moment that we happened upon this gift.
During this weekend with so little to get in our way, we gained so much. I hope to make this a yearly occurrence. I also look forward to going on more camping trips of our own in the future. Disconnecting to reconnect is what my soul needed. Now we are back at home and already back into the grind – cooking, cleaning, laundry, workouts, and preparing for the back to school rush next week. In so many ways, the trip already seems so far behind us, but the biggest takeaway for me is the reality of how little we truly need to make us happy. We’ve already minimized significantly in the past year-and-a-half, but I look forward to taking an even deeper look at what we do have and seeing how we can make even more breathing room.