This weekend brought about an event that I never thought would happen. Something so out of left field, so unexpected and unusual, that I didn’t dare to let myself hope for it. Alas, it happened on Saturday:
My friend, Amy, went backwoods camping with me.
Maybe that doesn’t seem like a big deal, but trust me — everyone who knows Amy was floored that she would agree to sleep in the wilderness with nothing but the equipment on her back. Amy is not a wuss, but she is definitely not an outdoorsy girl. She’s a big fan of creature comforts — running water, working toilets, air conditioning, refrigerated food–and furthermore, she’s scared of what a darkened forest might hide. Rapists? Bears? Rapist bears? As long as I’ve known her, she has openly hated camping and good-naturedly mocked me for my interest in it.
Until last winter. During an evening of drinking, she suddenly mentioned that she wanted me to take her camping this summer. I was taken aback. It took a solid 45 minutes of drunken, “No, but I don’t think you understand.” / “No, you don’t understand! ” before I finally realized she wasn’t joking. I am still not positive of her motivations, but I didn’t second-guess them. I just got really excited to plan our first big outing.
Turns out, I was not disappointed. Our trip last weekend went great! Sure, it was hot and the majority of our 2-mile hike took us through mosquito-infested forests, but Amy never complained once. Sure, our “plumbing” was nothing but a partially covered pit toilet and a muddy river, but she never seemed grossed out. And yeah, it was a lot of hard work, but she seemed happy to do it–and I was happy to guide her.
It made me feel proud to be able to share something I love with someone close to me. I have so few real passions–and even fewer that others share–that bringing someone into “my world” is a thrilling prospect. I felt the same way when I took my brother backpacking last summer, particularly when, after he doubted my packing wisdom at the car before our hike, he turned to me at the top of the hill, breathless after the steep climb and said, “Okay, you were right and I will listen to you from now on.”
Obviously, it’s an ego trip to be a teacher, to have someone depend on you for instruction and, in this case, actual survival. But more than that, I loved the idea that I helped Amy and my brother improve as people. I change their worldviews, if even just a tiny bit! I opened their minds! I harbor no illusions that my brother or Amy will become hardcore campers now, but they did learn something from me, even if they didn’t realize it, and that’s all kinds of awesome. (Besides, my brother agreed to go camping again with me this month, so he obviously enjoyed some of it.)
A decade after my sister slowly instilled in me a deep respect and admiration for backpacking, it feels great to be able to share that spark with others.
It also feels great to not have to deal with Rapist Bear jokes from Amy anymore.