Susan Cox: Happy campers don’t mind a little rain

I recently attended a four-day camp with the girls in our church youth group. When we arrived, we spent a chunk of time putting up our tents and getting everything else in our campsite set up. We attended a few large group events before heading back to our space. We were looking forward to having time together to bond with just our small group using the supplies we brought to play games, braid hair and make friendship bracelets.

Then the rain arrived. Most of the girls took refuge in the tents, but I along with our other two leaders and a few of the girls stayed under a large canopy and had a nice conversation. After a while, the other girls got bored and left their tents to play games in the rain, which had lightened up by then.

That evening the plan was to cook tin foil dinners in the fire. We came prepared with the foil we were asked to bring, but we were dismayed when the food we were given included whole carrots and potatoes. No one told us we needed knives or cutting boards. Happily, we discovered a couple of small knives in a supply shed and we used paper plates as makeshift cutting boards. Additionally, by the time the rain stopped there wasn’t enough time to rebuild the fire, cook, and eat our dinner before the evening gathering. The camp leaders gave us a couple of options, but we still had to adjust the plan of an individual dinner for each person to multiple foil packets of food that we all shared. The lack of a fire also meant no expected s’mores that night.

We ended up having a fire a couple of nights later to make our s’mores since the girls really wanted them and we didn’t want all our “gourmet” s’mores ingredients to go to waste. Sitting around the fire after eating our s’mores turned into a nice opportunity for everyone in our group to open up and share how they were feeling about the camp experience. Then the three of us leaders and a few of the girls stayed by the fire talking for several more hours. By the time we visited the latrines before going to bed, the sky was filled with stars, so we paused to take in the view.

Not everything at camp went as planned, but we did what we could to make the best of it. We got our vegetables cut up, our foil dinners turned out OK, and everyone had enough to eat. The rain gave us opportunities to visit with each other and to get creative in our activities. We even found time on the last day to play a few games and make friendship bracelets before heading to dinner after we had packed up our campsite.

Life doesn’t always go as planned, either. I’ve found I can cope with these unexpected circumstances better when I try to make the best of things or find the good in the new plan. Often the changes lead to good experiences. For example, our postponed fire led to increased closeness as we shared with each other, which probably wouldn’t have happened if we’d made s’mores on the first night. Additionally, we wouldn’t have seen all the stars if we hadn’t stayed up late talking. Sometimes I can’t find the good in the changes until later, but I can usually find something good eventually.

As you encounter unplanned or changed circumstances, I encourage you to do what you can to make the best of things and to look for the positives.

Susan Cox is one of The Republic’s community columnists, and all opinions expressed are those of the writer. She is an avid reader, an outdoor enthusiast, a mother, a grandmother, and an adjunct instructor of English at Indiana University Columbus. Send comments to [email protected].