Collaborative Camping

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Yesterday, I got to tell you about out first night in a tent. I described how we got used to night noises and the fun day we had afterwards to balance out our emotions.

I saved the lesson about collaborating for today. We fought and made up prior to the test run in the tent and here is how it went down…and back up.

I thought that I was the teacher. I expected to explain the parts of the tent and the process and she would watch and learn. I would do most of the work to set up the tent and she would help as I guided her. My experience included setting up many different kinds of tents. I wanted to be appreciated for my knowledge, demonstrate my skill and have a little assistance on the task.

So when I said, “Would you help me?”, it didn’t really mean give me advice. Now, my Honey is an out loud verbal processor. She takes in data and turns it every which way, asks questions and offers ideas that occur to her from this process as they occur. In this environment, where I thought I was the authority, I was not prepared for this method of learning.

She began with “why this?” and “why that?” Then went on to “what if we did?” and “maybe we could try?” I was beside myself. I could not comprehend how there could be so much to talk about on such a simple process. In my opinion, I certainly did not have anything to learn and she would not stay focussed on my “right way to do it” long enough to learn. She was busy figuring it out in a way that worked for her. I did not realize at the time what she was doing and was quiet offended.

We had a little “intense fellowship” that spoiled the tent set up to be sure. She stopped talking altogether and I grew even more miserable with the silence. I did really want a conversation but I wanted it about how I was doing it so she could learn my method. What was I to do now? Within a couple of minutes I just stopped working, stood up straight and gently asked why she was silent. She said that she did not want to irritate me, but she had an idea worth sharing. I adjusted my attitude like a coal miner washing the soot from his face after a long day underground. I asked if she would please share.

What happened next was a God thing. She pointed to a place in the tent’s fly where the fabric was not tight and flat. She asked if it might leak there and wondered if maybe there was a clip or buckle or tie or something we could use to pull the fabric tight. I had my best attitude on and crawled in the tent to look. I expected to demonstrate that it was just the nature of this design. I stared completely stupefied at a clip right where she thought it might be nice to have one. I had never seen it before! I am still wondering if God just put it there to help me learn a lesson about communication and to save our future outdoor adventures from unraveling. I clipped it in place and eagerly crawled out to hold her close. I thanked her for her contribution and promised to work on being collaborative about learning to hike and camp together even when I felt I was the uncontested expert.

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Guys, your lady might want to just watch and assist as you guide her; she might want to just rest while you apply your trade; she might, however, be like my Honey and want to have her thoughts and ideas valued and appreciated by you. If you are not sure what approach is best for her, just ask. I know my Honey appreciates it when I consider what will work for her.

You might find that collaborative camping finds culmination in considerable cuddling…like it did for us that day.