Written by guest contributor Mike Tiemann
Recently, my wife was heading out of town for the weekend, which left me and my two daughters to fend for ourselves. Before my wife left, she came up with some ideas for fun activities that we could do together… because she’s great like that. (One of those ideas was for a “cat café”—which, depending on your view of cats—is as fantastic or horrendous as it sounds.)
Of course, I also had an idea of my own that my daughters and I could do together: backyard camping! I should mention that camping is just something we do in our family. Our girls have a lot of experience camping out in the woods and on the beach. And, for the record, I don’t think there’s anything better that you can do to grow closer as a family. There’s something about being away from all the conveniences we rely on every day and getting back to the basics together.
Something always goes wrong… and you have to figure out what to do about it.
It WILL rain.
Your equipment WILL break.
You’ll get ZERO sleep.
You’ll be surrounded by natural beauty, with the time to actually appreciate it.
You’ll make memories for a lifetime.
You’ll never feel more alive.*
*Again, that last part may vary, depending on your personal idea of fun.
Our trusty family tent had been looking a little threadbare after 10 or so camping trips, so we had recently upgraded to a bigger model. I figured this was the perfect opportunity to put the new one together and give it a test run with a night in the backyard. We could pair it with a bonfire and s’mores for some classic daddy-daughter fun.
Everything was coming together with the plan… except the weather. Friday evening looked just fine, but then storms were supposed to roll in during the early morning Saturday and continue through Saturday night.
I had a choice to make. We could push through with the plan and camp… knowing that we’d have to pack up the next day in the rain, stuff a wet tent into the garage, and spend the rest of the weekend meticulously drying everything out again. Or… we could “punt”… watch a movie… and stay cozy and dry inside.
I think parenting is full of choices like that. There are plenty of times when we just “mail it in” or fail to take advantage of opportunities to really connect with our kids in a meaningful way. I’m particularly bad about staring at my computer, trying to do things that, admittedly, could wait. In my mind, I’m trying to get all those tasks done so I can put them away and we can enjoy our night or weekend together. Meanwhile, my attention has been divided during what was supposed to be quality family time.
I’m not saying that staying inside and watching a movie would have been the wrong choice in this particular situation. But I DO know that I’m glad we went out and camped.
We enjoyed our s’mores by the fire (made this time with Snickers bars).
We woke up to pounding rain.
We got soaked trying to take everything down before the thunder and lightning hit.
We made some unique daddy-daughter memories that I don’t think we’ll ever forget.
When we reunited with their mom again at the end of the weekend, we had a story to tell. And I had another important reminder to make the most of every moment we can while our girls are here under our roof. Because I’m pretty sure these are the moments we’ll remember.
Mike is an editor and writer of children’s curriculum, living in Roswell, GA. He and his family have been serving with Lighthouse Family Retreat since 2013.