The Time Jessica went Camping
It started in April when my fiance texted saying that he was thinking that we should go camping sometime. “It will be fun,” he promised. “You’ll love it.”
Or maybe it started last May when I agreed to go on a date with the aforementioned Idaho boy.
Either way, it was happening. And this indoorsy girl was equal parts excited and nervous about the entire endeavor. I wasn’t sure how my dog, another deeply indoorsy creature, was going to react to a deeply, in-the-great-outdoors-this-is-actually-bear-country sort of situation (spoiler: she was more bugged by the other humans than the moose that was 30 feet from our campsite).
On a Friday afternoon in June we packed up the 4Runner and headed up to Teton Canyon Campground. We stopped at Huck’s in Swan Valley for square ice cream cones and spent a good chunk of the ride saying, “Look at that!”, “ooh, that’s really pretty”, and “What! World! You’re showing off!”
After camp was set up, a process that was pretty quick when you’re just setting up a two man tent and an air mattress in the backseat of the car, then the best part of camping started: the still quiet of rustling aspen leaves and nothing specific to do. I worked on making peg people crayons that I quickly decided to gift to everyone in the office upon my return. I read from a novel. I relished the fact that my phone was off and in the glove compartment, enjoying the break from relentless sound from the world. We made delicious food and probably ate a few too many s’mores.
Saturday was very much the same, quiet and still, with a few games of Canasta mixed in for good measure when it wasn’t too windy or drizzling. We were just about fully settled in when the Camp Host came up our little hill and told us that there had been a bear in the campground last night and with an abundance of caution they had decided to close for the night.
Apparently Smokey the Bear wasn’t about preventing forest fires that night and instead was about knocking a guy out of his hammock and trying to get into a tent. With those details in hand, we were more than okay to pack up our things and get back on the road home.
I spent the drive home contemplating how to give myself the serenity of camping, that space of disconnection from notifications and social media stories, in my everyday life. For some people, it might have been enough to say, “I’m going to stop being on my phone so much.” and that would be enough.
I am not one of those people.
I need something more. I considered building a little diorama with a small tent where my phone could go when I needed a break, a physical reminder that I was out of the connected-to-everyone-and-everything office as it were (this still isn’t entirely off the table). I’m starting here though: a commitment to spend 1,000 hours unplugged in the next year, with a poster to track my progress and keep me accountable.
I’m not sure about what exactly I’ll do with those 1,000 hours, but I imagine that there will be more books read, better conversations with the people I love the most, time to create instead of consume, and more looking up and around the world. If you want to play along, we’ve included the poster for you here.
Overall, this very indoorsy girl ended up loving her time in the Tetons, even if there are bears who sometimes push people out of hammocks. And in the indoorsiest of days and months, I’m committed to find that same camping tranquility tucked into fifteen minute moments and lazy Saturday afternoons.