Something Definitely Persists

I went camping this weekend with family members at Big Sur on the central coast of California. In all, there were four adults and five small children. We slept in two tents and packed enough supplies for what my mother refers to as “Coxey’s Army,” which is an expression she learned from her mother.

We had six folding chairs, five sleeping bags, four flotation devices for the nearby creek, three play pens, two plastic bins of food, and a spare tent for the kids to play in. In addition, we had the usual medical supplies such as a first aid kit, Calamine lotion for those susceptible to poison oak, mosquito repellent, and enough sunscreen to lather up half of Coxey’s Army.

This leads me to two observations about the experience that ought to interest most people, whether campers or not. I should state at the outset, however, that anything that gets a family outside and away from television, video games, and the Internet is a good thing. And anything that bonds a family together should be encouraged and practiced regularly, which is why these camping trips have become annual events for our family.

The first observation is that families have become overprotective. This is not exactly news, but fear-based parenting seems to have become the norm rather than the exception. Now, parents take all kinds of precautions to ensure that their kids do not step across the threshold of their (the parents’) safety zone. There are plenty of problems with this, not the least of which is that by the time I see students in university they are much less likely to take the initiative or be entrepreneurial let alone think critically.

Down at the creek some kids enjoyed a fair amount of freedom swimming on their own and exploring. Others, not so much. These were often nagged about not going too far into the water or supervised about how to play and with whom.

This reminded me of a story my mother-in-law told once about traveling from the Peninsula to San Francisco on public transportation at night and back again at the age of twelve without any problem. To insist that kids were more self-reliant or life safer back then may be oversimplifying the problem, but you certainly can make the case that children were less managed.

The second observation also has to do with fear. This time, the fear involves territory. Our camping spaces did not have direct access to the small beach and cove that served as the gathering spot for families. So we skirted the far end of an adjacent space to reach the beach. Apparently, this stressed at least one of the campers in that space, who tried to protect their territory.

If you have never been to Big Sur, know that it is a spectacularly beautiful place. It is filled with sharp cliffs, exploding waves, aquamarine water, and wind burnished cedar trees. It is not the kind of environment conducive to pettiness. When in the midst of such beauty, how can the soul do anything but give glory to God?

Instead of glory or gratitude, however, these people backed up their camper to make it more difficult for us and others to walk down to the beach. When confronted, they shimmied and shaked at even higher levels of anxiety.

But I discovered something just as spectacular about Big Sur. These were the only campers to exhibit any kind of negative or unkind attitude, and there were quite a few people at the campsite. Everyone else treated Coxey’s Army with the crying, screaming children with friendliness and humor even if battle fatigued. And even after my daughter accidentally set off the car alarm in the middle of the night, causing yet another round of screaming.

So even if fear is the root cause of overprotection on one hand and pettiness on the other, something persists in human nature to overcome the fear. It defines us as authentically human. Something definitely persists.

Feature image by Greg Poulsen from Pixabay. Middle image by LUM3N from Pixabay. Bottom image by Free-Photos from Pixabay. For more, go to Robert Brancatelli. The Brancatelli Blog is a member of The Free Media Alliance, which promotes “alternatives to software, culture, and hardware monopolies.”


  1. Thank you, Robert, for this lovely and thoughtful post:). Big Sur is one of my very favorite places in the world, for all of the delights of sights, smells, fog, and people you mentioned. Definitely a place of dreams, wishes, and grace. I am so happy that you and your family shared this place and all the stories it can evoke.

  2. If you want a self contained aquarium- like vacation while sampeling the green ery and a tour of The Red wood I can recommend a deal to see the oldest living creature on Earth while yer at it……( you can even take a photo with her)…If it rains my top notch training will tell you ..( dont touch!) the roof of the tent with your finger….Anybody!. ALWAYS beware of bears.. There are finks to be on guurd…Bringing the family can cause rrlaxation.,Primo…. But being a Republican I can underdtand the sophistication of the venicular refrrred as Cocksey’s Army ..Howanbout Fleet instead.Yea thats better. If you bring your good gang…nowadaze.. I recommend a kibbtz if you want all that.. Dtop me a line…
    On the other hand… In your training as a cub scoupt… I can recall similar discipined higher office….BOY scouts.. They provide knots survival traings such as rubbing too stix together nanging teo stones and even imitating animal sounds.. Especially wolf calls.. But before you go on family outings out there again and be subject to earhquakes.. floods…and as a result heading for the hills.. Contact your local braintrust …Rich Port. Inc. They wil make complete senz on another journey wrth while. But dont slam the door and damage your toe on the way out…lol… Or you can take it to the enth degree and run wild..These I presume are your options in other words..Gpod night and may God Bless. I will share.


  3. My wife and I decided not to have children but I think that if we did, micro-managing parents is not what we would have been. As a child I had the freedom to explore and to be. Now I watch how kids are overly sheltered by parents to the point where parents do not want them to experience any thing negative in their life, down to protecting them from failing at the slightest experience. As a result kids are entering the world like deer in the headlights, waiting for someone else to show them what to do and to rescue them. It’s a scary state of life that not even parents are realizing because they are waiting at the side with a perceived safety net for the grown kids.

    1. Thank you for the comments. I think you are right. What I did not mention is that there is a clear gender difference in this, with moms being the most fearful or anxious. That may make sense, but then that anxiety gets transferred to the kids, which isn’t good.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Verified by MonsterInsights