“Empty your mind. Be formless. Shapeless, like water. Now you put water into a cup, it becomes the cup. You put water into a bottle, it becomes the bottle. You put it in a teapot, it becomes the teapot. Now, water can flow or it can crash. Be water, my friend.”
- Bruce Lee
For the Fourth of July weekend we spent three nights out in the country of western Massachusetts. While many campgrounds have some shady characters, this campground had a particularly seedy underbelly. The main facilities manager reminded my a lot of Danny from the Netflix series “Bloodline”. As a reminder he, Danny, appeared nice and pleasant to external persons but was running a huge drug trafficking business behind the scenes. This campground had very meager, but adequate accommodations, and very few rules.
As a privileged white male, I struggle with judging others around me, but I quickly moved beyond trying to judge whether I could trust anyone or whether my kids would be safe with any of the other campers and simply treated every situation required a heightened diligence, on my part, to ensure the safety of my children. I did my best to not interfere with my kids having fun so don’t think my kids noticed my increased alertness.
I do think the fellow campers were well meaning but my observation led my to think that their approach to kids and family is “go ahead, jump in the 10' bonfire, see what happens.” While I do employ experience as a teaching aide I tend to draw the line at experiences that may permanently scar my children.
Once we internalized that there were very few rules and regulation, we discovered that we didn’t need to remain at our designated camp site. We found parking in the field, which is typically for large RVs to be much more convenient to the facilities, pool, and playground. We also listened to our instincts and would pull our kids in for family time when the activities seemed to be less than ideal for little kids.
We spent much of the daytime out and about. One day we visited the Eric Carl Museum and the Mt. Sugerloaf Observatory on the next. We didn’t have a strict agenda for either day and we decided to just flow with the day and try to enjoy not having any external commitments. It took some concerted effort, but allowing ourselves to flow into the day opened up opportunities for conversation and imagination muscles to be exercised.
We’ve learned that a great advantage of van camping is that it can be all self-contained. You can go where the day takes you, if desired. We used this to our advantage on the last night as we returned to the campground to discover that someone else had taken our site. Did I mention there was very little regulation?
Since our little secluded, wooded site was occupied, we drove around and found a nice ‘off-grid’ spot in the field, near the swamp. It had no table, water, or electricity, but we made the best of it and had the best view of the campground. We found this site, which was out in the open of the field, to be more isolated and private than our previous wooded site. We loved it.
Camping, like life, is what you make of it.