As a young boy, I remember summer camping with my grandparents. It was them, my sister, me, and my two younger cousins. Us kids were aged five years apart from oldest to youngest. We were elementary school aged, and eventually in to young junior high. Our location was a lake in the interior of British Columbia. Our home was a pop-up tent trailer, in which we four grandkids slept on one side in our sleeping bags. My grandparents slept on the other side.
As a young boy, I remember making up a lot of our fun. Particularly my young boy cousin and I. A walk to the camp store where we would by taffy candies, two for a penny. Fishing the camp pond for little three-inch sunfish that we’d catch and release. Walking around the campsite occasionally making new friends with other camping kids. Playing cards. Playing lawn darts. Playing horse shoes. Reading at the beach. Swimming in the lake and repeatedly jumping off the lake’s raft, climbing back on, and cannon-balling again.
As a young boy, in those days, we didn’t have phones. The only phone available was a payphone at the entrance to the campground. We didn’t have video. We didn’t have music beyond Grandpa’s small radio. With our limitation of space, we didn’t have bikes. Instead, we made our own fun. And I remember it being a lot of fun. Those were the late 1960s and early 1970s.
Fast forward to the early 2020s. On the weekend I took an overnight of retreat to a nearby lake. This time it was just me, my eagerness to kayak, and my appreciation for some quiet time on the lake. It was some slow time, which I suppose is natural for the way it reminds me of those days camping as a young boy.
At this campground is a young family that I’m enjoying watching. They seem to be parents and three young kids. They have a tent. The kids have bikes to ride. They have a set up that feels familiar to me. A camp stove. A table cloth for their picnic table. A few pots and pans. A water jug. A few games to play. I can see the parents encouraging their kids to ride their bikes in the campground while the parents get breakfast cooking. It’s fun to watch.
Now, I can imagine these kids being a bit bored. But therein lays the excitement to me. In their boredom, just like it was for me with my sister and cousins, after complaining a bit, they will make up their fun. In the lake. With their games. With the rabbits in the campground. With the lizards. Because the campground isn’t that exciting. It’s not like there’s a movie theatre and a mall. I smile to see the joy on their faces as they ride their bikes, starting out with laps around the site.
I love seeing the creativity. I love seeing kids left to get creative. I love the memory of, support from my grandparents, but then, needing to figure it out on our own. To make it up. I love the memory, even the complaining we kids did, of taking turns washing and drying the dishes.
There is something important in leaving our kids, and perhaps our adult selves, to create our excitement and to notice the simple things that are beautiful. To feel the beauty of what arises from a little natural boredom.