We Made Mistakes on the Camino. You Don't Have to.
If you have read other posts and blogs I’ve written, you know our family is REALLY involved with the Camino and that our son and his family are even moving there in January of 2020 to serve people walking the Camino. This might seem ironic when you know the details of our first walk back in 2007.
When I heard about the Camino, I knew in my spirit that we were supposed to do it. Wick and I had been talking about finding some special trip to do with our son Hunter, who was entering his senior year of high school. We loved making special memories with our children in this way. Then an acquaintance at a church dinner mentioned what a powerful experience the Camino had been in her daughter’s life.
After we made the decision to go, we researched it every way we could online, bought a guidebook with maps, and went to our local outdoor store to get our gear. We got some great generic hiking advice from our friend who was the store manager, but no one at the store had actually walked the Camino. We know now that the Camino is not like any other hike when it comes to the gear you need. Some items you need can be bought along the way in Spain, and some cannot, and it is good to know these things in order to pack as light as you can.
We made so many mistakes. The three of us realized on Day 1 that we had not allowed enough time in our itinerary to walk the 500 miles together, but that Hunter could walk it if he were not waiting on us to catch up. So we bought two of the cheapest Spanish cell phones available in 2007 to stay in touch, and said goodbye to him. My huge mistake of overpacking resulted in a stress fracture in my right foot, and eventually requiring me to bus into Santiago to buy crutches. We talked it through and I convinced Wick to complete his walk and meet me in Santiago. Even as I kissed Wick goodbye and limped onto the bus, I realized that the closeness to God and each other I experienced on the Camino was worth all the hardship. Costly, but worth it.
In the 12 years since our first Camino, we have walked many other times, other routes, and in different seasons. Hunter has walked several more times: alone, with friends, and his wife Stephie; and our daughter Hilary and her husband Tom have walked the Camino Inglés and plan to return next spring to walk the Camino Portugués. Our other daughter Haley has joined us in Santiago to experience that beautiful city and see pilgrims finishing their walks in the Cathedral Plaza. We have participated as volunteers in Santiago at a pilgrim hospitality center, and through the years joined in thousands of conversations with pilgrims from all over the world.
Now we are sharing the wisdom and tips from all of those experiences in every way we can think to do. I wrote a guidebook for people to use to prepare and plan their own trips. We created a website to be used by people as a resource. We blog, and we post on FaceBook and Instagram. Our goal is to make the Camino accessible to as many people as possible, setting the stage for others to experience God in the powerful and wondrous ways we have. That is our prayer and our hope for you.
Wick and Helen Van Wagenen first walked the Camino in 2007, and God has used every part of their experience to shape their lives since then. They have continued to make many more trips to research routes, test gear, and volunteer along The Way. In 2016 they founded Camino Provisions, which includes a website full of Camino resources and blogs, and are more active than ever before on FaceBook and Instagram encouraging others to discover and live the pilgrim lifestyle. You can contact them at Info@CaminoProvisions.com.