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The Zen of Family Camping


A post shared by Charlie Capen (@charliecapen) on

Last weekend, we ejected out of the urban sprawl and divebombed headlong into nature. It was our first time camping as a whole family. Last year, I took Finn on his first mountain adventure, just the two of us.

But it was high time the whole clan made a trek into the badlands and chat with mother nature. We found a spot north of Santa Barbara. It was one that could sustain a Capen visit and it acted as our test run for us, but mostly an excuse to run free for a bit.

The campsite lay nestled a few hundred yards from a river and provided plenty of shade. What I didn’t expect was the massive bug population brought on by actual moisture having fallen from the sky in California. The number of caterpillars was near maximum, thousands everywhere. The boys immediately took to collecting and cataloging them. Myriad species abounded. Furry, slimy, horned, striped — the caterpillar gang was all there. Sure, there were mosquitos and mayflies everywhere, but the trees had beckoned us home.

A post shared by Charlie Capen (@charliecapen) on

I’ve been going camping since I was a wee-little 8-month-old. Yosemite and the high Sierras were part of my upbringing. So, I feel like I’m way behind. We camped for two nights and three days. Knees were skinned. Rivers were swum. Marshmallows were roasted.

The ultimate expression of success for a camping trip, besides making it out without losing a limb or pooping for a week straight, is your kids saying, “When can we go camping again?” And my answer is always and forever.

My son, in the first picture in this post, said he wanted to meditate in the river. Little does he know that my meditation is just being in nature with my family. That’s the real truth.

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