Happy New Year, dear friends of Camping with Five Kids! May you enjoy health and precious memories with your family in 2022.
The benefits of camping with your family are endless. One important benefit is spending quality time together; free from the distractions of life: television, computers, phones and the internet. No hurry. No rush. Stories shared, games enjoyed. Lively conversations where you discover your children’s thoughts.
It’s true. Camping requires much work. The parents drive to destinations; everyone helps set up camp. Meals are an adventure on a two-burner stove where only one burner really produces a boil and everyone likes something different to eat.
Wait! Maybe that’s just us.
Close quarters with your immediate family and all the dirty laundry. Again, that could just be us. But there’s nothing quite like family camping.
You see the world, or at least the continental United States and Canada in our case. Although we did take the camper, van, and family on an ocean ferry to Newfoundland. My husband and I wanted to show our five children the varied landscapes and waterways and not spend our tiny life savings doing so.
Camping in state forests and national parks, sometimes without electric hook-up and showers—the primitive campsite—saved loads of money. We used a Coleman lantern to light our camp and flashlights to walk to the toilets and sinks. We used these campsites sparingly as the children enjoyed the amenities at commercial campsites; pools, hay rides, playground equipment, and yes, showers.
But the nightly entertainment at primitive campsites couldn’t be beat. Star-filled nights without all that light pollution wowed us as we lay on blankets in a field or on the beach of a lake, gazing up at those forever twinkling jewels as if God speckled the night sky with a milky-white paintbrush just for us.
If you start camping early enough you can mold your children’s interests to mirror your own. My husband and I enjoy nature in all its facets and always enjoy learning something new. We were looking for ways to educate our children as well as entertain them on vacation. So we participated in park ranger-guided hikes and scavenger hunts which taught us about the flora and fauna, the geology and history of the parks.
We allowed the children to have a say in what we did. As a family, we enjoyed tubing down the rapids in the Great Smoky Mountains, horseback riding in the Blue Ridge Mountains, and white water rafting down the New River in West Virginia, to name but a few.
Free activities abound to the observant camper who sees what the locals are doing. We’ve had snowball fights in July in tee-shirts and shorts in the Rocky Mountains, swung from ropes tied on a huge swamp maple tree out into a roadside river in Vermont, and, when the children were teenagers, jumped off a 30-foot cliff into a deep, tannin-colored river in the Adirondacks.
Family togetherness. To explore nature and enjoy the family. To work together as a team. To share stories, hopes, and dreams.
We’ve roasted hot dogs and toasted marshmallows by the campfire. Played charades. Climbed playgrounds, rock formations, and mountains. Crossed rocks in crystal clear streams; waded into icy mountain lakes. Observed wildlife, when the children were silent long enough to allow us a view. Echoed our voices from the mountain peaks and canyons.
Adventure. That’s why we cram into our little tent trailer in the heat of the summer to go camping. To experience the thrills and joys of family life amid nature. You should try it too!
I read an excellent post about the benefits of camping in nature at the Sport Fitness Advisor. Yes. My family has received these benefits and enjoyed priceless memories doing so. No. It wasn’t always easy. But life seldom is. What we do as a family is build a relationship one treasured memory at a time.
Thanks for reading! Have a healthy and beautiful 2022!