Otherwise Titled: Why skipping workouts, not drinking enough water, and eating not-so-healthy food can be good for the soul
This past weekend I attended my first “Mom’s Camp” with the Boy Scouts of Troop 29 in Southern Minnesota. I had been told by more experienced moms that it was a great weekend for mother-son bonding, there is a different theme each year (this year our theme was “Fantasy Island”) and the Scout leaders and boys handled everything from setting up the tents to cooking and cleaning. Beyond that, I really had no idea of what to expect.
Being somewhat of a girly-girl, I was a bit freaked out at the prospect of spending a whole weekend doing “boy stuff” out in the cold. Wasn’t this supposed to be Dad’s job? Why are they making the moms do this? But being up for a challenge and game for trying new things, I went into it with guarded optimism.
As we set up our tents the first night in the cold rain I thought to myself, “I must really love my son, because I can’t think of very many other people who is do this for.” My optimism was waning. The first night was freezing cold. “Be Prepared” may be the Boy Scout motto, but I certainly was not. My thin pajamas and sleeping bag were no match for the damp 43-degree weather. I woke up having to pee about 2:56 a.m., but was too cold to get out of the cocoon of my sleeping bag. Staying in the lukewarm tent dealing with an uncomfortably full bladder sounded better than facing the cold. What did I get myself into?
The next morning the sun was shining and there was hot coffee. With that, I counted my blessings, put on my big girl panties and set out to have a great time. I’m glad I did, because the next 24 hours were nothing short of amazing.
As moms, we often think about the things we want to teach our children. Spending time with my son this weekend taught me a few lessons. Here are just a few of them.
1. Face your fears like a badass
I’ve never been much of a camper. I hadn’t slept in a tent in a over a decade, and I have become quite fond of indoor plumbing, my warm bed and my laptop. This weekend, I would not only be tenting it; I’d be doing it in 45-degree rainy weather with a crew of people I barely knew. Aside from not showering for two days, not knowing any of the other moms very well and sleeping in a tent by myself was pretty darn intimidating.
Anyone watch the television show Naked and Afraid? This was my own personal version of it (or at least as close to living out the show as I’m willing to get). But like I tell my challengers in our Badass Bootcamp, if it doesn’t challenge you it doesn’t change you. I was open and ready to change. Plus, I had cute socks for the occasion.
2. If you’re going to step out of your comfort zone, wear rubber boots
I completely stepped out of my comfort zone. Quite literally. I had rubber boots to keep my feet try (thanks for the tip, Sara!) but giving up the creature comforts of home like indoor plumbing, heat, and my Keurig was not going to feel so good.
I was reminded of this: When you step out of your comfort zone, you adapt quickly to the changes. You rise to the occasion. After the first night, I found that cutting off my water drinking early-evening would reduce my need to get out of my cozy sleeping bag and tent to trek across the campsite to the bathroom in the dark. I also got smart and dressed in layers when I went to sleep. See, “I’m getting better at this camping thing! I can DO this!”
The magic happens when you leave your comfort zone. You gain confidence in your abilities to master what you were once afraid of.
3. Really LIVE the moment
I’m glad my son could see my loosen up a little bit and not be the Type-A parent that I often am. I was not attached to my phone 24/7 and could enjoy our time together without the distractions of daily life. Thanks to the fantastic scout leaders there were no meals to plan, no clothes to fold, and no emails that couldn’t wait until I got home. I could be present in each moment.
Sometimes veering off your path allows you to savor all that life has to offer. Sticking to my normal routine of clean eating would have prevented me from fully living this experience to the fullest. For a day, I traded my veggies and lean protein for Bananas Foster and Spamsicles (yes, that’s a real thing). One of the scout leaders is in culinary school, so we were the lucky beneficiaries of his talent. Being that I don’t normally eat things like bread and sugar, and I appreciated every single bite.
4. Appreciate the Little Things in Life
Often, we need to experience lows to appreciate the highs in life. On Saturday morning, hot coffee in a styrofoam cup never tasted so good. Toilets that actually work, hot showers and clean hair are blessings of living in a First World Country we have come to take for granted. When I got home, that shower was like magic rain from heaven itself. The monotony of everyday life sometimes needs to be rattled a bit for you to appreciate what you really have.
You don’t have to go to Mom’s Camp for you to experience this. By creating opportunities in life for you to challenge yourself, you develop a more robust appreciation for what you already have. In the end, the little things in life are often the big things.
5. Sometimes You Have to Go for It
Saturday night at Mom’s Camp was “Casino Night”. I am not much of a gambler. I’m the girl who’s been to Vegas twice this year and spent all of about five minutes actually gambling. And when I did, it was with less than $5. It was interesting to see how the boys were the risk takers, moms were the ones holding them back. Boys wanted to put those $100 chips on the line, moms were the ones urging them, “How about we just bet $5?” (OK, that may have only been me). However, I’m guessing some of you can relate. In protecting our boys, we often suppress their natural instinct to go for it.
At its core, gambling is all about statistical probabilities. As we get older, many of us are afraid to take calculated risks. Reflecting back on that, it made me wonder, What if moms took more risks, put more on the line and really went for it? In all likelihood we’d also see bigger rewards.
As the moms and sons circled around this morning and reflected on their weekend at Camp Norseland, I don’t think there was a dry eye among us. I was not the only one moved by the events of the weekend. I’m already planning on blocking that weekend off next year.
A word of advice to the moms who may attend Moms Camp next year: Sometimes you have to get over your fears and Just DO It. Even if you fail, you’ll be experiencing, learning, and moving forward. Also, pack rain boots, a down comforter, leave technology at home (the 3G connection sucks anyway) knowing that you will be creating lasting memories with your son you will remember forever. And THAT is worth taking a risk.