I have discovered the secret to happiness– at least, the secret to MY happiness. 
It is sleeping outside. 

There’s no doubt that this has been a whirlwind summer– camping trips, the beach, Boy Scout Camp, Camp Cheerio, sailing and Vacation Bible School planning.  There’s been a lot of laundry, a lot of time in the car, and lots of sleeping outside.  Laundry and time in the car, I can do without.  Sleeping outside?  I love it.  Even in the rain.  With spiders.

There are two words for our first night at Camp Raven Knob.

Torrential.  Downpour.

While our cots were up on wooden pallets, there was, in fact, a river running through the middle of the tent, which much to my tent mate’s horror, we were sharing with a black widow.  When we arrived, we had our swim test and ate dinner.  The skies opened up in the middle of our meal, and it rained non-stop through the night and all day the next day.  With wet swimsuits and towels (and a dead spider) hanging in our leaky tent, we never really dried out for the duration of our stay, yet…

… it was totally awesome!

I was steeped in “boyness”.

It is true that I heard more butt and fart jokes than I could have ever possibly imagined, but I also learned a lot simply because I was in a new environment and trying new things.

Isaac took it upon himself to take the advanced swimmer test.  He swam 100m without stopping, did the backstroke for 25m, and floated for a minute.  I was so proud of him and was hoping he was just as proud of himself.

When he finished, he said, “I don’t think I did very well.”

“What are you talking about?  You did great!” I exclaimed.

“Well, it wasn’t very fast.  And I got tired.”

Me too, buddy. 

100m is a nice little swim for a 7 year old (or a 41 year old who doesn’t particularly care for the water– especially water where I cannot see the bottom.)

A future aquatics instructor.  He was thrilled to swamp the canoe over and over again, and he spent every second of free time in the lake. 

Our trip was a great exercise in stepping out of my comfort zone.  I love being outside and camping and have done quite a bit of both over my life, but I am not a fan of the water or drowning worms, and my archery skills are pretty much non-existent, so this put me in the position of being a beginner, and not a “natural”, on most of our activities, and that was OK.  It’s good to try new things.  Isn’t that what I tell the kids all the time?

Isaac likes fishing even if his face doesn’t suggest that.  (He has a sun squint just like me.)
The fish weren’t really biting that day, but we saw some snapping turtles.
Fortunately, they weren’t biting either.

Archery instruction

And then some of it was not out of my comfort zone– some of it was right up my alley.
Besides aquatics,  tools and handicrafts were Isaac’s favorites.
They were mine too.
We made leather coin pouches.
Super fun.

Free cotton candy– also not out of my comfort zone.

But the craziest thing about camp was how well I slept.  Granted, we were pretty whipped by the time the sun went down every evening, but I slept so soundly and restfully, I have to tell you, I came home with a renewed determination that we MUST add a sleeping porch to our house.  And while I’m waiting, I’m planning on spending way more time in our tent this summer.  Cooking and eating outside, sleeping in fresh air, sitting around a campfire– these are the secrets to happiness, I’m tellin’ you.

If there is a cure for our society’s constant state of stress and frantic living, it has to be the great outdoors.  I’ve always been an advocate of getting outside and being in nature as much as possible, but this trip proved my point. 

Harper Lee spent another beautiful week outside herself immersed in horses and riflery at Camp Cheerio.  That girl is a Maureen O’Hara kind of woman– I love it. 

Once we were all home again, we celebrated Father’s Day by taking my dad out on the sailboat.  He had never been with us, and Rob likes any excuse to get out on the water.

My Daddy

Along with horses and rifles and bows and arrows and soccer balls, Harper Lee is also becoming a pretty proficient sailor.  I want to be like her when I grow up.

In the meantime, I’m practicing by swimming in dark lakes and learning how to hold a bow.  It’s a lifelong process.  She just got an earlier start. 

So besides steeping myself in “boyness,” the main thing I carried away from Camp Raven Knob is that we also need to steep ourselves in nature.  Whether it’s a mountain trail, a sandy beach or the deck of a boat plunging through cool spray, the real secret to happiness
is to get outside.