Confessions of a Non-Camper

by DanWolgemuth on September 8, 2023

It was two years ago that our family gathered outside of Steamboat Springs, Colorado for a camping weekend. Yes, that means all 19 of us… with one notable adjustment. In this case Mary and I opted to “camp” at a nice hotel in Steamboat Springs. Certainly we joined the other 17 family members for a few meals and other camping activities, but when it came to sleeping arrangements, we opted for a king sized bed and a controllable thermostat. I confess that I might have wondered, perhaps out loud with Mary, that maybe our real outdoor camping days were behind us.

In full transparency, I’ve never been a camper. There were no tents in our house growing up. No campfire meals or memories. Consequently, I’m not very good at it. Seriously. We all know folks that are natural campers. Tents. Fires. Food. Outdoor activities.

But not me… and confessionally, I wonder if my lack of competence informs my willingness and my transitional energy into a hotel.

Fast forward to Labor Day Weekend. The plans had been set in motion nearly a year ago. State Forest State Park outside of Walden, Colorado. Family camping. No hotels nearby. And yes, the moose capital of Colorado.

19 campers. Family.

Tents. Sleeping bags. Camp stoves and instant coffee. Hot dogs and s’mores.

No cell coverage. No wifi.

Just eight adults.  11 kiddos ranging in age from 4 to 15.

Two nights. Three rain storms. Chilly nighttime temps in the upper 30s……

And then. And only then. When personal excuses, and immobilizing apprehension subside… something special. No, something remarkable.

Against the fear-filled mental messages that tug toward adventure-less experiences. Something remarkable.

Kids being kids. Adults unplugged. Conversations. Uncontained laughter. Fireside games.  And yes, kids being kids included a trip to the outhouse with Mack, our four-year-old grandson, who informed me enthusiastically, “Pops, you don’t even have to flush this toilet.”  Indeed.  The optimism of a four-year-old.

So much that could go wrong. But so much that could go right.

Handcuffed by either inconvenience or fear. I could have passed. I would have passed, except I married an adventurer. And in spite of me, my family has grown into explorers. Into kayakers and fishermen. Into barefoot wanderers and Spike-Ball players. Into fire pokers and axe-wielding 8, 9 and 10-year-olds. Into whittlers with sharp blades, and beaver trackers.

I am in their classroom. Remedial learning for the patriarch.

A reluctant “Yes” opened the Milky Way. Literally. Unencumbered stars showed off. The moon splashed on the party.

I confess. I repent.

And as such, I wonder what else I have said no to that would have provided immeasurable return on investment.

Anyone else?

Is a safe “no” in the way of a muddy, wet, risky, “yes”?

No excuses.

The work continues…


And yes, I’m still vacuuming dirt out of my car… and never has it been more welcome.


Hey, Jesus…

by DanWolgemuth on September 1, 2023

Good morning, Lord. I’m starting my day with a deep sense of gratitude for your love, mercy, grace, and sacrifice. You are too wonderful for words.

So… I’ve got a few things I’m sorting through that I need some clarity on. Consider this a process check.

The Sermon on the Mount, which, by the way, was an outstanding piece of work. Wow. So in the sermon, you say a lot of really great stuff, but then, about a third of the way through, you say this…

“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.” (Matthew 5:43–45, ESV)

When I read through these words this morning, I couldn’t help but believe that you didn’t really intend for them to pertain to our culture. Right? I get that you were working with your disciples to shape them into the followers you wanted them to be, I mean, people that led and loved like you did. And I know that the Romans were rough to be around, and an oppressive sort… and then the religious leaders, yikes, those guys were intense… but that was then, and this is now.

I’m just confirming with you that I get a pass on loving my neighbor, let alone my enemy. Right? Different time, different message. (By the way, have you seen the yard of the guy around the corner? What is that guy thinking. No worries, I’ve already notified the HOA!)

I mean, have you heard about some of these folks (I would use other words to describe them, but I am writing to You)? They’re out there. They would love to get rid of any mention of you. They mock and ridicule and they even legislate in a way that conflicts with the Bible. I get a pass on loving these people, I’m pretty sure of it.

But then, I read this yesterday. It was written by a guy named Thomas a Kempis. I’m sure you know him. He had the nerve to write this: “Jesus Christ alone is to be supremely loved, for He alone is found good and faithful above all friends. For His sake and in Him let both enemies and friends be dear to you, and pray for them all that they may all know and love Him…”

I’m assuming that because this was written 650 years ago, that what this guy wrote doesn’t apply now. I mean, seriously. Have you heard some of the people out there now? No way should I ever consider them “dear to me”. How out of touch.

So again, just checking in to make sure we’re all good. Different time. Different rules. Right?

I would appreciate a quick response since I have a great message to post in X, and a few Instagram messages to forward. I’ll wait to hit Send until I hear back.

You know where to find me.

Your servant, Dan 


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