Southwestern Indiana's Catholic Community Newspaper

A Tent, Rain And S'mores

By Becky Siewers

I am a “girly girl.” I like nail polish, smelling nice, clean clothes and the comfort of being inside.  So I find it quite amusing that God asked me to do ministry in a summer camp for a few years and then brought an amazing, big-time camper into my life, who I eventually married.  I survived the summer camp and knew by marrying Joe that camping would always be a part of our lives. 

“I can do this,” I tell myself each time we got ready to pack things up and head to the campgrounds.  But deep down, I dreaded it!  I don’t understand what is fun about packing up all the things needed for the days of camping, only to arrive and unpack.

My Joe is a tent camper, so I try to be of help as he sweats to get that tent up and ready to use.  I look at the tent and its air mattress and think, “this is my home for the next few days, oh boy!’ 

Everything comes with extra work for me when you camp.  Cooking, doing dishes, staying cool, avoiding the bugs; and of course, the surprise of rain that comes every time we camp.  How can that be fun? 

But God’s life-giving presence is a gift that is always within us.  He remains faithful to us, even when we are unfaithful to him.  It occurred to me after 10 years of camping that there is something God wants me to learn from these experiences.  I must remain faithful to what His plan is and take comfort in what I can do – and stop feeling sorry for myself because I might feel uncomfortable. 

God leaves us totally free in our relationship with him, but the misuse of our freedom can also cause us suffering.  And so God asks us to cut out of our lives anything that blocks our ability to receive his love.  God speaks to us in many different ways.  Through the Scriptures, through the circumstances of our lives, with its joys and sufferings, and through the people we meet.  What a terrible thing it would be if God did not speak to me anymore because I do not listen to Him!

I got to see the beauty of nature each day I was working at that summer camp.  I got to experience the joy of seeing the campers as they experienced new things each day that will probably be lasting memories for them.  I was blessed to work with hard-working and dedicated staff members who I learned so very much from in many ways. 

As I sat in the shade this year on the annual Siewers family camping trip, I felt a different sense of what this time could be for me.  As I looked around the campground, I saw people who took the opportunity to enjoy the beautiful creation God has given us.  Families bonding, the chances to meet new people and taking the challenges that camping can bring – without the complaining! I heard the laughter of the family that I now belong to and share in their camping time together. 

I remember the small churches we find on each trip when we attend Mass. We are always greeted and made to feel so welcome.  And for that hour, I am allowed to see that God is always there for each of us.  When we overlook the little things in life, we are in danger of missing how God comes to us – blessing us with his love.  We can easily overlook the sacred moments in our daily lives that leave us with a sense of reverence and gratitude.

I may still complain a little on these camping trips, but I will definitely focus more on sharing this time that brings my husband so much joy. To share the time with family and be grateful for what they bring to my life. To enjoy the new things and people I experience, and appreciate the creation God has given us.  And how can anything be all bad when s’mores are involved?!