Camping Therapy Revisited

It has been six years since I first wrote about “Camping Therapy” and I wondered if getting out to the beach and bush would hold the same allure. We packed up and headed off to a variety of destinations to see what would happen.

The experience turned out to be therapeutic once again with lessons learned about meditation, living the present, family values, simplicity and communication, with a good deal of exercise thrown in as well.

One cannot help but become meditative when sitting on the expansive beaches of Southern Washington. Most of the time when people go to the beach they park and find a place to picnic. Near Ocean City State Park we arrived at the beach and noticed that you can drive right on to the beach itself. In this part of the world the beach is actually a state highway.

We drove along this immense beach and parked the vehicle and set up the lawn chairs and watched the surf. Our closest neighbour was a quarter of a mile away. The ability to access the ocean in this way was a unique experience. The beauty and immensity of the scenery was sobering and truly meditative. We could not help but be absorbed by our surroundings. It was a nice way to set aside the problems or challenges of everyday life.

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Later in the summer we camped at Scotch Creek Provincial Park on the Shuswap and then closer to home at Allouette Lake, and were impressed with the number of families we saw. Families of all sorts and sizes and children young and old. In this day of marital breakdown and family dysfunction it was a wonderful treat to see so many families spending time together camping. For the most part everyone was having a great time and growing closer in the process.

Six years ago our four children were part of our camping adventures. This year only one child came along and at other times we were on our own. Seeing the young families brought back memories and renewed within us the sense that family values are alive and well, thank you very much.

Living well the present moment is very important to good mental and physical health. Distractions from the past and future can readily crowd out the present. While hiking around Lightning Lake at Manning Park we were very much in the present. We paused beside the lake to watch an eagle soaring above the water in search of lunch. At the same instant a couple of fish jumped nearby and a small chipmunk scampered noisily across our path.

Camping is about simplicity. Granted, there is work involved with packing at the beginning and unpacking at the end; however, life in the campsite is about the basics. Our daily format involved sitting around a lot and reading or soaking up the ambience; going for walks (exercise); sitting around some more; building a camp fire; cooking what seemed like gourmet food; sitting yet some more around the campfire and best of all, getting lots of sleep.

Whether walking or hanging out around the campsite, conversation (communication) was a ready companion. With no everyday schedules or distractions to get in the way, we were able to talk about a variety of topics. These talks renewed and revitalized our relationship with each other.

The campfires were a highlight of our fourteen nights camping. These fires were enchanting and mesmerizing at the same time. They were a focal point for our gathering for conversation or quiet reflection and it was the same with the others sharing the campgrounds with us.

Campfire meditation brought our therapeutic experience all together. Campfires compel you to live the present moment while sharing time with family and friends in a simple way. Games, jokes and memories kept the communication flowing

After six years, our return to the campgrounds near ocean, lake and mountain has affirmed that “Camping Therapy” is just as strong and effective as ever.

Camping Therapy Revisited
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Denis works with couples and individuals. His areas of interest include marriage, grief and stress. He also counsels people who suffer from depression and anxiety symptoms, as well as those struggling with personal growth issues.

Denis is eclectic in his use of psychological approaches, which include Adlerian, cognitive/behavioural, systems, psychodynamic, brief solution focused, existential and emotionally focused therapies.

Denis is a popular speaker who presents talks and workshops on a variety of topics including marriage, grief, retirement, emotional maturity and family relationships. He has published a book titled, “Marriage Can Be Great!…no really.”

Denis was a Clinical Assistant Professor of Medicine at the University of British Columbia. He helped to start the first hospice program in B.C. in 1975.

Denis received his Master of Arts degree from the University of British Columbia in 1977 and works as a Registered Psychologist. He is a member of the B.C. College of Psychologists and the B.C. Psychological Association.

Most importantly Denis has been married to Maureen for over thirty years and they have four children.

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