Sara: This year, Justin and I decided to continue our Labor Day tradition of joining friends for a campout over Labor Day weekend. Justin and I have joined this group for the last four years, so it’s been neat to see how our relationship has changed each year with each camping trip.
It’s not uncommon to have 150+ people in our campsite. Since the group is mostly Catholic, for the past several years, we’ve even been blessed to have at least one priest on site with us to celebrate Mass and hear confessions. This campout truly marks the end of summer for both Justin and me.
While I was really looking forward to seeing many friends we hadn’t seen since we got married, I was also having a hard time getting excited about all the work packing to go camping entailed. Thankfully, Justin was more than patient with me as I was a bit crabby loading up the car on Saturday.
Justin: I actually had to stop and ask her if she really wanted to go right before we got in the car because she seemed like she was in no mood for fun.
Sara: After a bit of time on the road (and some caffeine), I was in much better spirits.
This camping trip was our first road trip together as a couple. Although we had gone on our honeymoon together, we hadn’t really packed or prepared together for a trip, so it was a new milestone for us. This trip truly showcased for me our change in life and how much we are a team in every sense possible, especially in relying on each other’s strengths. As Justin teased, the only thing we forgot between the two of us was the grapes.
When we got to camp, Justin and I put up our tent together. As a team, we were able to accomplish setting up our campsite in record time. Several times, Justin asked me where something was, and it would already be taken care of or exactly where he needed it. Likewise, I felt Justin had done a very good job taking care of me as well. He even gave me the fluffier mats to sleep on, and tried to let me sleep in as much as possible both mornings, which is no small feat in a two person tent.
Saturday night, it began to rain quite a bit. Unfortunately, a bit of water got into our tent. We worked together very well to dry out following the storm and Justin did a good job of trying to make me comfortable throughout the situation.
I think the reason Justin and I enjoy coming back so much each year even when there’s many things we could be doing is because the Catholic culture is integrated throughout the weekend. We have Sunday Mass, opportunities for Confessions, and lots of holy people (many of them more than I)! However, it’s how everyone acts even when we’re not at Mass or otherwise praying that stands out. While many bring alcohol, it’s very rare that anyone has had too much to drink. However, we have FUN. Between a street dance, swimming in a lake and water crafts, sitting around a campfire, and more, there’s always something to do or new friends to meet. We can just tell by attending how special these people are, and how they try to live out their faith on a daily basis.
On the car ride home, Justin and I discussed how we NEED more authentically Catholic items in our world.
Justin: I think the weekend is so powerfully Catholic because it is so natural. What do I mean by this? The weekend is Catholic without effort.
So often, people think that the holy life consists of spending hours in prayer and fasting. We have all experienced that strange look people sometimes give when they find out you are Catholic. The look that says, “You believe all that, you must be just a little bit weird.”
However, there is a realness about the social interactions that demonstrate you can be Catholic and normal. I think that this is what the world needs most. To understand that being Catholic doesn’t make you less authentically human. Rather, it makes all of your interactions deeper and more genuine.