Experiencing the Joy of Camping

Experiencing the Joy of Camping
The passing of Memorial Day heralds the beginning of summer and with it, the camping season. I love this time of year. The weather is still fairly temperate and the days are long.
 
I also love camping.
 
It’s the combination of cooking fire over the open flame, and “roughing it”–leaving many of the conveniences and distractions of home behind that charms me.
 
More than that, it’s wonderful to be out in nature where you can be calmed by the green, translucent canopy above, the sounds of leaves rustling in the wind and dragonflies buzzing, and to be able to take scenic hikes at leisure.
 
My wife was hiking on a beautiful sunlit trail at Copper Falls State Park in Northern Wisconsin, carrying our daughter on her shoulders, and I snapped the photo that this painting was based on.
"Waking Up the Woods," Acrylic on Canvas, by Matt Philleo

“Waking Up the Woods,” Acrylic on Canvas, by Matt Philleo

Below is a commissioned portrait sketch I did that celebrates that love of camping. This drawing was made from an older photo, decades old if I remember correctly.
Here we can see the husband and wife just enjoying being out together camping, and they look pretty happy. This freehand drawing took a few hours and, although not at my more photorealistic level of work, I think it captures the feel of the picture without too much fuss.

"Good Old Fashioned Camping," 11 x 14 pencil on paper, by Matt Philleo

“Good Old Fashioned Camping,” 11 x 14 pencil on paper, by Matt Philleo

For folks that camp at the same place every year, their spot can begin to mean a lot to them–a home away from home. Here is a drawing I did for an old friend from high school based off a photo of his parents’ cabin.
"The Johnson Cabin," 11 x 14, pencil on paper, by Matt Philleo

“The Johnson Cabin,” 11 x 14, pencil on paper, by Matt Philleo

After the drawing was done, they gave it to them as a gift. Pretty thoughtful gift!

Ok, I have to admit, I’m kind of big pyro.
For me, the campfire is at least 50% of the fun of camping, and I pride myself on being able to start and keep a campfire going, without buckets of gasoline and scorched fingers. I would rather cook a pizza over an open campfire in an oven any day.
I was never in Boy Scouts, but as an adult, I did learn to create a fire the old-fashioned way: by rubbing two sticks together. Well, actually, I used the “bow drill” method, where you take a curved stick with a taut string tied to either end and use its tension to rapidly drill a wooden dowel into a block of soft wood. That, in turn creates burnt sawdust which eventually ignites a coal that you can blow into a flame.
 
Starting a fire the old fashioned way.

Starting a fire the old fashioned way.

 

The seed of a fire: the glowing coal.

The seed of a fire: the glowing coal.

By the way, when God sees a flicker of life within us, a dim spark of hope within possibly shattered dreams and unfulfilled expectations, and even possibly the wreckage left behind a myriad of poor decisions, He won’t cast us off. He’ll take that smoldering ember and breathe life into it, fanning it into a flame.

Fire ready to cook on!

Fire ready to cook on!

 

It’s wonderful to be warmed and to cook over a fire that you made with your bare hands! And when you top off that meal with a nice toasted marshmallow enjoyed in good company, it doesn’t get much better than that!
Here is a portion of a mural I did for the Merrill School Forest, commemorating some of the folks that volunteered their time and talents to encourage children to appreciate nature.
Portion of the School Forest Mural, 4' x 6' Acrylic on Hardboard, by Matt Philleo

Portion of the School Forest Mural, 4′ x 6′ Acrylic on Hardboard, by Matt Philleo

If you haven’t already, get out there and enjoy God’s creation and spend time with your friends and family with a camping trip! Are there any interesting camping experiences you’d like to share? Let me know!

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