My First Campout – by Matthew Calamari

Posted by sam

My first campout ever was an experience that I will never forget. I can see myself now; little 10-year-old Squid, on my second day of camp, shoving a sleeping bag into a backpack, preparing for something I’ve never experienced before. I had no idea what to expect. To be honest, I was scared.

I remember my counselors telling me that we’re going to a place called “Royal Gorge.” Mind you, I’ve never hiked before, and even better: the clouds were getting darker by the second. If you’ve been to Camp Ridgecrest, you know the feeling of embarking on a campout with the fear that it’s going to rain. It’s something else.

So here it is, It’s time to leave. We’ve already packed up, gotten in cabin formation, and got our apples, pop tarts, and chips. It’s time to get going!

We march out of the gates and onto the side of the highway, over the bridge, through the conference center, and finally to the trail. I get pretty tired as we go along. I moved slowly, and I was always in the back of the hiking group. But we kept going. As time passes, and maybe 30 “are we there yet’s” later, we finally get to the campsite.

It was pretty sweet! Most of the other guys had all of their sleeping bags out (this was before everyone had hammocks) and were getting wood for the fire. Since I just got there, I just had to take a second and go up to the lookout.

So here’s the thing: Back then, Royal Gorge looked pretty different. There wasn’t a firepit there like there is now. There also wasn’t anything on top of the lookout. No roof, no overhang, no hammock hooks, no nothing. Just the patio and some railing so no one fell over.

The lookout was phenomenal. Royal Gorge is one of my all-time favorite views to this day. And it being my first time ever seeing it, I was in awe. I sat there for a while just taking it in. It was one of the first times I was truly amazed by the beauty of God’s creation.

Some time goes by; dinner’s over, it’s getting dark, the fire’s getting smaller, and everyone’s getting settled in and ready for bed.

Boom. It starts raining. And when it rains at camp, it pours.

Everyone’s getting wet, but there’s still time to figure something out. Luckily, we brought some tarps. The counselors tied the tarps all together on the lookout railing, where all of the campers could squeeze under and be protected from the rain.

Then something weird happens: We start singing Morning Watch songs, telling stories, laughing together, and even snacking on some canteen that we saved for the night. From what seemed like absolute misery, became simply one of the most memorable and warming nights of my life.

We fall asleep to the rain, wake up in the morning, and we’re ready for a new day at camp.

Here’s what I learned from looking back at this campout:

  1. Find the joy in the hike. Whether you’re the leader of the pack, in the middle, or hanging in the back, look around. You may miss something that you’re never going to see again. It could be a cool view, a new thought, or just something beautiful that you never would have experienced if you weren’t looking for the joy. Quit asking “Are we there yet” and begin appreciating what you’ve got around you on the way. This applies to everything in life, not just the trail. There are going to be tough times throughout your life. If you lean on the Lord in your tough journeys and dark times, you’ll witness his love for you and learn to love Him even more.
  2. Adore Creation. Every now and then, just stop. Take a deep breath. Realize how beautiful and how good it feels to take that breath. Look up in the trees, down at the grass, and into the horizon. God created every leaf on every tree, every blade of grass on the ground, and everything in between. And God knows it all so well. In fact, God did the same with us. There are billions of people in this world, and God knows every hair on our heads, every thought in our minds, and every moment of our lives. God created us and loves unconditionally for who we are, because he sees the beauty in us and knows us well.
  3. Sing in the rain. Okay, you don’t have to actually go out and sing in the rain. But in those times of misery that seem inescapable, make what you can of it. I look back on that tough night, and I remember the stories and jokes told, the songs we sang, and the lifelong friends I made in a night that we could’ve just given up on. Don’t ever give up, just start singing in the rain.

Find the joy in the hike, adore creation, and sing in the rain. In times like these, have faith in the Lord, and try to find joy in the world, the same way He finds joy in us.

Your friend,

Gregarious Greater Kudu


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