The Restorative Powers of Camping

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The Restorative Powers of Camping

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Every year for the past thirty years, except for the summer our daughter got married, our family has gone camping in the High Sierras of California.  Sometimes there were four of us, but frequently we took on an extra grandparent or child.  For the last few years, it has mostly been my husband and me.

Amazingly, every year the same feelings fill my heart and mind: those of excitement mixed with the feeling you get when returning home after a long absence.  As we turn on the long straight road that leads out of the desert floor of Bishop and then winds its way up the mountain through the stark moonscape terrain, there is an eagerness to see if our campsite will be available.  It is not that there aren’t a number of camping areas, but there are only a select few that meet the criteria of being next to the creek and within the coolness of the pines.  The anticipation makes me think, “What if someone is in our spot? What if it is crowded with people who don’t appreciate it like we do?” This reasoning is silly since God has always provided a beautiful place for us.  We just have to be thankful for what He gives and look for the blessing, which makes all the difference in our perception. 

As you rise up to the 9000-foot level, pine trees begin to dot the landscape and then to fill the gorge where the creek pours down among granite boulders.  Rushing and tumbling, the creek makes its way to the floor of the Owens Valley below.

Last year we had an extended family of eight people, which included our two grandchildren. Sharing our campsite and fishing holes with all of them for the first time was a joy.  But this year it was only my husband and I, and that brings a calm peace that we appreciate more with age.  We don’t have to hike up to the upper lakes, visit the mine, or eat a different dinner each night.  We can fish, read, eat fish, and fish more if we want.  

There is no cell phone reception where we camp.  The whole world could pass away and we would be unaware.  The concerns or worries of this present life seem to roll away as we set up our tent and arrange our familiar camp supplies.  There is the old battered granite pot that we collect water in and the camp kit of pots, plates and pans that have been around for over 50 years.  It is as if they say, “Thank you for letting me out of that box so we can once again be of service to you.”

This year I had been suffering from pain in my hip and knee and wondered how I was going to be able to get off the air mattress in the tent.  The first few days my husband pulled me up and out.  Then as I relaxed and soaked in the peace and calm,the pain seemed to pass away.  The scripture came to mind that Christ said in Matthew 11:28, 30, “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”  The release from the pain allowed me to thoroughly take in the healing benefits of God’s creation.

We like trout, both catching and eating them. We also like watching the lake change from mirroring the surrounding snowcapped mountains to sparkling with thousands of diamonds as the wind picks up.  The first couple of days we fished in some beautiful lakes, but they were not my fishing hole.  Someone was in that spot and not catching anything.  Of course, we weren’t either, but I just knew if they would let me sit there, I would have had fish.  Then we went to my favorite spot, North Lake.  As we rounded the corner and took in the expanse of the lake, I could see that no one was in my place among the bushes. As soon as we were set up and I cast out, there was that familiar tug on the line.  What followed was my limit, then I let my husband have my spot, and he had his limit. See, I do share my special fishing hole!

We caught so many fish that we ate trout for four nights and brought some home.  This reminded me of the story of Christ with the disciples on the Sea of Tiberias. Simon had said, “I am going fishing” in John 21:3, but they caught nothing.  We began like this the first day or two.  We were going through the actions, but our hearts were not yet in it.  Christ told the disciples to “cast the net on the right side of the boat, and you will find some” (John 21:6).  Christ gave them fish.  He wants to be part of our lives and give us good things.  All we need to do is let go of our worries of this life and put our cares on Him.

I can just imagine Christ looking down at us fishing and with a smile saying to His Father,  “There are two of Your children enjoying Our creation, let’s send some trout their way.”

To read more about God’s creation and how it affects human perspective, request a free copy of Creation or Evolution—Does It Really Matter What You Believe.