Camping Life Helps Teach Discipline And Self Improvement

What do you suppose a kayak trip, and camping life, could possibly have to do with thoughts about discipline, what you make of events in your life, the little efforts that you make, or getting up before anybody else?

Develop the habit of getting up at least one hour earlier than everyone else. What you learn – or see – in that hour can change your whole outlook on life.

First of all, let me talk about what you make of life’s events.

On one camping/kayak adventure, after I carried everything from the truck to Sugar Creek in Crawfordsville (that’s where I started my trip), a sudden thunderstorm hit me. I ducked under a bridge and waited for the downpour to pass by.

I could’ve used the storm for a reason not to go on my trip. You see many people look for excuses just like that to justify their failures in life rather than to study the problem and find the opportunity that God hides inside. They just give up, and giving up is a way of making sure that you stagnate in life.

But I know that rain is God’s way of watering his plants so they grow healthy and strong. A good rain meant that my trip would be full of majestic colors – a canvas covered with God’s creativity.

I looked forward to that.

And what about discipline, the little efforts, and waking up early?

I took off down the creek at 1:00 PM on a Sunday. I ran into rain two more times that day. Each time I was able to get under a bridge to wait it out. And each time once it cleared up I was able to go on my way again, admiring God’s beauty.

But there were other people on the creek too. People rent tubes, canoes, and kayaks for short trips downstream. That last thunderstorm of the day 5 guys passed me going from Crawfordsville to Shades State Park. They had their own kayaks and were making a fast trip. They had started out at 5:00 PM, which meant they wouldn’t get to Shades until well after dark. Even paddling fast (like they were) that is an 8 or 9-hour trip.

Here’s my point: When other people get out ahead of you there are things you will miss! Because the others beat you to those things.

My first night of this camping trip I pitched my tent on a handy sandbar that I found around 8:30 or so. Sometimes those bars are tough to find because the creek keeps moving them around, or covering them up.

On Monday I started on the creek at 9:10 in the morning. That’s a little late but it was early enough that I was in front of all the renters.

At 11:45 I spotted a Doe and two little Fawns on the bank up ahead. I watched them until the Doe seen me. Then she moved up the bank, called the Fawns and they followed her away from the creek and into the woods. I only saw them because I was in front of everyone else that day.

I stopped for lunch at 12:40 and started seeing the first renters catching up with me. They were all around me the rest of the day. I tend to float most of the time and paddle only when I need to. I watch ahead of me to see everything I can. The quieter (and more still) things are around you, the more you see.

Paddling means you’re in motion. When you’re in motion the animals see you as a bigger threat than they do when you’re just drifting along.

They move to get away from you sooner.

Even the majestic Bald Eagle leaves his perch in a tree when he thinks someone is getting too close.

How many deer did I miss on Monday afternoon, I wonder, only because somebody got in front of me? Not to mention the beaver, turtle, muskrat, and yes, even snakes.

That first day between 7:30 and 8:00 at night I even saw a wild turkey. That’s the first time I’ve ever seen a turkey living wild and free. I only saw it because the five guys had passed me at 6:00, and I was all alone on the creek – and had been for over an hour.

Simple Disciplines & Your Outlook On Life

A few simple disciplines, and how you treat the events that happen in your life make a big difference in the ways things turn out for you. Sit back, relax, don’t get in a hurry, and wait for the pressures to pass.

Even when I was surrounded by other people, beauty was everywhere.

The trees can’t run away from you. They just stand still for you to admire their majesty. They wave at you in the wind, and if you listen you’ll hear them whispering to you. What kind of ancient secrets might they tell you?

The fish still jump for insects. Ah but on that first day, when there was no one around, a large small mouth bass jumped over the front of my kayak, and dropped back into the water on the other side. I was just drifting along and sat there watching it as if I watched a film in slow motion. Think that would’ve happened if there were other people around?

And what about that most majestic of creatures? The Bald Eagle?

When other boaters paddle along in front of you the eagles stay high – flying around overhead. You can watch them as they glide on the air currents. And I don’t think most of the renters really even notice them.

But when you are all alone and just drifting along, you can spot the eagle sitting on a high limb – watching you.

Those experiences taught me to slow down and look around me. They showed me how to spot the opportunities that surround us. But it took me years to finally understand how those camping life adventures taught me discipline – and how they helped me grow as a person.