We set of for a weekend of camping with dear friends for a lovely “Father’s Day weekend” and there would be many that might of viewed it as the weekend from hell. We set off and got caught in deep conversations and missed the turn off to Newcastle, which sent us into the city before we could get back onto the right road to head north. But that was fine by us because we were happy to be away together and we were to busy chatting and laughing to watch where we were going.
We arrived later than expected and had 50 minutes to set up before it got dark. One of the teenagers opened the car boot and two boxes of stuff feel out and smashed all over the ground. We all laughed...The boys went to put their tent up and they had no poles.... they smirked and decided to sleep in the car. Deep down I think they were happy not to have to set up a tent at all. The other family brought one chair...luckily we brought 5, we forgot a table to cook on, luckily they brought a large one for us all to share.
We got the main tents up; just in time to watch the sunset, then to discover that the light we brought didn’t work and the light the other family brought was nearly out of batteries with no charger.... we laughed. But by this time, a nice cup of tea would have helped. We set up our primus to find it would not work either and the other family didn’t bring anything to cook on because they were going to use the camp kitchen at the camping ground that we just discovered we should have got the key before office hours closed. So we would have to wait till tomorrow to use the kitchen. The other father is a chef, but he didn’t bring a sharp knife, luckily I brought two. What can you do but laugh. We did have power...but nothing much to plug into it!
The men decided to go out to the beach and find a communal BBQ to cook the meat and we made some salads by a torchlight that we knew would go out at any time. We did find one torch that could be charged so it sat charging waiting for its turn to light our space.
The boys came back and we had just finished eating and the lights went out...so candle light it would be, which set a lovely mood, we sat and chatted and laughed together. The stars were so beautiful that night, there was no wind and the candlelight was peaceful. The teens wanted to play silly “rhyming games”, the conversation was loud and the laughter was real.
The forecast was for rain all weekend so we were ready for it with a waterproof tarp over the communal eating area. When we got up in the morning the sun was shining...so we were all excited, but we really wanted a cup of tea. We had to wait till 8.15 am to get the key, so my girlfriend decided to go knocking on caravan doors and find a jug to boil some water. She was successful, as I went to get the key to the camp kitchen, she made us all a cup of tea and then she went to give the jug back. The chef decided to get everything ready for us to go and cook a BBQ breakfast and in his excitement, he knocked over her cup of tea. It went everywhere...through the eskies, all over the table and the breakfast ingredients...She got back and we were all laughing as we drank our cup of tea and she had none.
In all this time I can honestly say that there was no tension, mean conversations, yelling or crying. Two couples with two teenage kids each, 8 of us were simply happy to be there, together, relaxing.... no rain, sun shining, the sounds of surf in the background and two days to do nothing but relax and be together.
I am sure this should/ could be a reminder of the importance of being prepared. I know that much of what was happening didn’t need to, if we had been better prepared. But what struck me on this weekend was that it didn’t seem to matter. I loved to watch the teenagers going with the flow, problem solving on the spot with us as adults and quite frankly being quite happy without.
The day was perfect and relaxing and as night fell so did the, as promised rain. I actually love being in a tent in the rain. It feels so snugly and with the chef and his snoring next door...the rain meant that we couldn’t even hear him. So all was well…until the rain started to drip on our head.... 2am in the morning.... the sprinkles began. The flood was coming into the front of the tent, the seams over our bed were too old to handle the heavy rain and no matter where we moved the bed to escape from the rain it found us. My husband dammed the front door, we stacked everything on top of each other to prevent as much as we could from getting really wet...put the doona over our heads to mask the drips and waited it out till morning. What else could we do? We couldn’t escape to the car; the boys were lovely and dry in there. We couldn’t escape to the other car; the chefs’ wife was in there to escape the snoring. . Oh well, “Happy Father’s Day”.... I say! We smiled at each other and tried to get a little more sleep.
The sun rose and there was a break in the weather enough to give the men their presents, for the kids to go and cook a beautiful breakfast for us all, as we madly pulled down our dripping wet tent and threw it into the trailer. We got most things packed, before it bucketed down again. We left it all there and went and had a lovely breakfast...why not!
“Happy father’s day weekend” wasn’t quite as we planned, maybe that’s because we should have done more planning.... or maybe it really didn’t matter?
When you are with the people you love, when you don’t have an agenda, but to be together, maybe then the adventure of whatever happens is actually the fun bit! It was quality time with my family, in close quarters and not much else to distract us from being together. It was a chance to be in nature, in God’s creation, where walking, swimming and discovering is all we needed/wanted to do. The kids were saying, “Do we have to leave?” I know the feeling...life is way to full and hectic. When you get the chance to NOT plan and just GO with the flow, for me it was actually refreshing. I think that was why no one was worried about all the things that we didn’t have
Brian Mclaren says it better than I ever can:
. “What we all want is pretty simple really. We want to be alive. To feel alive. Not just to exist but to thrive, to live out loud, walk tall, breathe free. We want to be less lonely, less exhausted, less conflicted or afraid, more awake, more grateful, more energised and purposeful.”(We make the road by walking, B. Mclaren, pg xiv, 2014.