As soon as the spring semester started to come to a close, I began thinking about all of the things I wanted to do once classes were finished. After a semester of classes before work and then more classes and group meetings at night, I began to accumulate a list of fun things I was excited to do once I had a little more time. So in the spirit of taking advantage of opportunities, having a weekday campout was the perfect way to kick-off summer!
why this adventure?
Before I get much more into it, you need to know that this semester challenged me a lot in terms of creating balance. Often times it felt like work and school were filling my day more than community and adventures. Though that was the reality of some days, one important part of the semester was taking advantage of opportunities. I took advantage of mornings grabbing a coffee with a friend, spontaneous trips, long phone calls with soul sisters, and different activities that I knew would be good for my heart. With this, I also had my fair share of times to say no. I turned down dinner plans, chose to curl up in bed with a book, or go on a walk with my husband. I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again, it’s about creating balance.
As the spring semester ends, I leave a season of rushed, anxious, and giving my everything most of the time. The summer still holds school and work, but I’m praying earnestly for a season of peace and rest. I am doing my best to fill this new season with mini adventures, sunrise runs and sunset walks, and time with my people. Sometimes rest doesn’t look like laying on a couch in the dark, but can look like participating in activities that bring peace to your heart and joy to your soul. What I’m trying to say is that I took advantage of the time I had in the spring but am putting a lot of effort into maximizing the time I have this summer for a season of rest and fun.
the list of fun things
So, back to the list I started to make. One thing on the list that seemed like the perfect way to kick-off summer was a campout! I was craving sleeping in my hammock, starry nights, and a crackling bonfire. Kelsey and Taylor, two of my ladies who are always up for everything, instantly agreed to camp with me. Summer travel and moves left only time during the week to camp. Though not the prime time to camp out because of the standard 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. work obligations, in the spirit of taking advantage of opportunities, we decided to go for it.
Here’s what that looked like.
Northeast Missouri offers plenty of places to camp such as reservations and parks. With plenty of trees and only a 10 minute drive to the destination, Thousand Hills State Park offered the perfect location for our mini adventure. It rained earlier in the day and we debated whether to hammock or tent camp. However, I am a hammock girl through and through. I can sleep like a rock all cocooned up in my hammock. Also, hammocks are so much easier to assemble than tents. So it was pretty much a no-brainer that we were going to sleep in hammocks. After set up, which took approximately 8 minutes, we got onto the good stuff, and by good stuff, I’m talking about fire and food.
Taylor was our fire queen and built us a beauty. The damp wood didn’t slow her down and she was able to get a campfire going so quickly. We set up our chairs which is basically where we lived the rest of the night. Kelsey kicked off the roasting by cooking hot dogs. Please laugh with me as you notice the hotdog on the stick she’s holding. Do you remember the Charlie Brown Christmas Tree? Her roasting stick and hot dog resembled that kind of memory as the stick was bent like a fishing pole. But it ended up doing the trick!
Yes, you read that correctly…. S’MORES PLATTERS. Going into the night we only had one thing planned and that was boujee s’mores. Essentially we wanted to create amazing s’mores combinations for some over-the-top campout dessert. We had the basics (graham crackers and marshmallows) but then extended the buffet to include strawberries, dark chocolate, cookies n’ creme chocolate, donuts, cookies, pretzels, and popcorn. This also resulted in each of us eating at least 3 s’mores because we wanted to taste all of options to find the best combination.
I’m sure you’re dying to know the best combination. Though I’m sure there’s some awesome creations waiting to happen (I think peanut butter and oreos would be a game-changer), my two favorites included dark chocolate and berries.
Includes: graham cracker + dark chocolate + glazed donut + mallow + strawberry + more graham cracker
BERRY CHOCO TREAT
Includes: graham cracker + dark chocolate + mallow + sliced strawberry
Obviously I was super into the berries and dark chocolate, which are two of my favorite foods to eat! Let this challenge you all to make boujee s’mores next time you’re roasting mallows over the fire. Also, if you have any flavor recommendations, send them my way because I know there will be plenty more of these as the summer continues.
‘ROUND THE FIRE
Have you ever started working on something or began talking to someone and gotten into such focus that you don’t realize how much time has gone by? A situation where you start doing something in the daylight and you get so engrossed in it that before you stop to think its nighttime and you realize a lot of time went by? That was us, but in good conversation. We talked about how we all became friends, movies, spiritual life, moves, relationships, food, music, our jobs, and so many other things. The friendship I have with these two creates a space of vulnerability, honesty, and humor, all of which are high quality. We talked in our camp chairs around the fire until I could barely keep my eyes open. My my eyes were heavy and my heart was full.
Eventually we killed the fire and moved to hammocks. The mid-60’s weather made for the most perfect hammock sleeping night. It was just the right temperature to let you get all snuggled up in a sleeping bag and blanket for the night. My method is to look up at the stars from my little cocoon and rock back and forth until I’m asleep. If you’re never slept in a hammock before you’re probably reading this thinking I’m crazy, but you should absolutely try it sometime because it’s great. If you’re intimidated to commit to a night in a hammock, at least try a nap or reading a book in the day light, because even that is so good.
WAKING UP IN A HAMMOCK
I honestly can’t decide if I like falling asleep or waking up in a hammock more. Falling asleep is such a great feeling but also waking up is so great. There’s just something about waking up to the color-changing sky, the chirping birds, and the crisp air that is so refreshing.
I took advantage of the peace, stillness, and life all around me.
We then got up and moving by 6:45 a.m. because I had to be at work by 8 a.m. Packing was super quick because all it entailed was folding up chairs, stuffing sleeping bags, and throwing everything in the car. We loaded up, said our goodbyes, and that was that.
As I biked to work shortly after getting dropped off at home, I reflected on the previous 12 hours. I was encouraged by community that gives life, by the soul-refreshing time of being outside, and the peace in my heart. This summer I am choosing rest. I am choosing life-giving experiences and mini adventures. I am choosing to take advantage of opportunities.
This week I chose to go camping in the middle of the work week. Maybe next week I will go on a walk in a new place, people-watch on a bench, or play music outside. I’m not sure yet, but I think that’s the beauty of this season. What will you choose?