I am not an “outdoorsy” person. Most of my friends would prefer to be in the air conditioning playing board games than roughing it in the wild. Camping with a group of people who don’t inherently enjoy the activity reminded me why it’s a wonderful thing to do, even if you don’t like it. 

My trip inspired this month’s Doodle of the Month, the tent. The core piece of the activity, the tent, is part of what makes camping a true experience. It’s a home away from home, a new base of operations. Sleeping like sardines, huddling inside of its sheltered walls during a rainstorm, listening to the birds sing as the sunlight plays across the inside in the early morning, the nostalgic smell of tarp and nylon: the tent ties you together.

There’s nothing like being kicked in the head in the middle of the night by three of your friends to remind you why you love them. Camping is shared (mild) suffering; as noted by the least outdoorsy folks in my squad, you camp to reminisce about the things that went wrong. Food supplies drug into bushes by wild raccoons (or inebriated neighbors), wandering lost through the woods without cellphones, heroic kayaking mishaps; these become fond memories shared over and over.

The outdoors are for everyone; even a group of friends whose main activity is sitting around a table rolling dice and doing silly voices. My friend group is an adventuring party. We play Dungeons and Dragons together, telling wild stories of grand adventure. Set to the backdrop of a crackling fire, peering at character sheets with flashlights, it’s the most focused you can be on the wild, fantastical tale. The promise of treasure and danger in the forest is never more real than when you have leaves falling on your head.

“There’s always a story. It’s all stories, really. The sun coming up every day is a story. ...Change the story, change the world.” -Sir Terry Pratchett

Being outdoors with people you enjoy is the best way to reflect and prioritize. It’s a way to remember the stories that the world tells you every day. You are surrounded by them: In the sun rising; the wind blowing out your attempt at building a fire for the tenth time; making new stories with people you care about, whether silly fantasy or just “that one time I fell face first in the river and let the kayak escape”. Every story needs a good setting and a little bit of nature is a fantastic backdrop. It gives you grounding to come back to life and make sure you’re telling the stories that change the world for the better.

In this story: Tent Doodle