Take Your Kids Camping, Please!

Boler

Our upgrade from the early days: cute little Boler camping trailer. Kids are still in a tent, but not us!

If I’ve timed this right, this post is going to drop right in the middle of our annual week-long camping trip along the Oregon Coast. It is, by far, my favorite Summertime activity and I look forward to it like a child waiting for Christmas.

This week marks our 6th year of camping and there have been some changes since the early days. That first year, we piled everything we needed inside the Honda Odyssey (we didn’t even have a roof rack!) and I took us on a road trip that covered about 800 miles in total and had us setting up and tearing down camp every two days.

“Variety is the spice of life” is a personal cliché of mine, and I had no idea what kind of camping we’d enjoy the most: near the beach? in the mountains? high desert? Obviously, I also had no idea how much work was involved in setting up and tearing down camp! Which is why on the last day as we were driving home I took my husband’s hand and asked, “You sure you still want to be married to me? I’m so sorry…”

That year we had four kids under the age of 10, including one that was still nursing, in diapers, and happened to spike a pretty high fever on our first night as we huddled together in 40 degree temperatures at beautiful (freaking-cold-at-night) Crater Lake. “Oh, this is why the ranger kept insisting that I get a fire started when we arrived at 4 pm when it was still 80 degrees!” I thought to myself as I shivered while making dinner via flashlight.

Our air mattress popped in the middle of the night so we woke up on the freezing cold, hard ground and had to head into town to buy a ridiculously expensive new one so that my husband’s back wouldn’t break. Remember, it was already under considerable strain due to the loading and unloading of all of our crap from inside the mini-van. I seriously can’t believe that he agreed to do this again after that first year! Were we crazy? No, I’d like to think that even in the middle of all the nuttiness of that first year we realized a few of the “whys” of camping is so good for our family…

There is nothing like the smell of fresh air that surrounds you as you drive into your little campsite encircled by old growth pines.

We play games – Farkle, Gin, Loaded Questions, Apples to Apples, just to name a few!  And our charades are legendary.

The food! I’m a bit of a nut job in that I like to prepare all of our dinners ahead of time and freeze them – so that all I have to do at the end of the day is warm up a big pot of something delicious and we eat as well as we do at home. This gives me more time to sit by the fire, drink a beer, and connect with my family (or a really good book!)

And my kids love that they get to eat stuff that we rarely have at home: Top Ramen (Hey, don’t judge! I LIVED on Top Ramen, beer, potatoes and peanut butter for four years while I was in college, and I turned out okay!), Pop Tarts, Funions (what are these anyway? I don’t even think “onions” is in the list of ingredients…) and so, so many s’mores.

But the thing that I look forward to the most is that there is no wi-fi and because we have a super crappy phone network, no cell service. For an entire week, we are all unplugged and I.LOVE.IT. My kids, who are pretty much digging their Summer screen time which is waaaay over what I know is good for their brains, get a break from it all. Especially the older ones – for whom the world and its pain never leaves them alone for a minute when it’s all just a click away on their phones.

We engage. In the here and now. With each other. And it is good.

Take your kids camping, please.

Let them find “their” climbing tree and the hidden way to get to and from the bathrooms. Buy them fishing poles and sit quietly next to them for hours in August after the lake’s bounty has already been snatched up and hope, hope, hope that this is the year they catch “the big one” that is legend around these parts. Laugh yourselves silly and sing at the top of your lungs. Create the type of memories that matter as a family. Then sit back and wonder who gets the most out of this experience – you or them.

Does it matter? Not really.

Have you ever camped as a family before? Did you love it? Only do it “for the kids?” What other kinds of things do you do with your babies/kids that might become a family tradition? Let me know – I love this kind of stuff!

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4 thoughts on “Take Your Kids Camping, Please!

  1. Here is one of my favorite memories of camping with my family growing up: Padding quietly to the bathroom building, alone in the dark, getting pine needles on my feet, then climbing back in to my sleeping bag and not caring about the needles. I have no idea why that memory surfaced while I read your post.
    I’d say, sadly, that we didn’t camp enough with our kids, but what we did, we all loved. And we continue to travel and be away from home and out in the world, with or without cell service, with our kids, now that they are 22 and 18. So many memories are made of the days we spend in different places, navigating arguments in other lands, finding medicine in a different language. You touch on a sense of being resourceful, which camping just puts in your lap. I remember watching our girl take off in a kayak from our island campsite, with just her friend in his kayak. They must have been about 8. It was her first venturing alone, on water, and she has just kept at that gesture, over and over and over again. But I have the visual of her, blue water, and a well-gripped paddle, as image and comfort this month, while she heads off to college.
    Have a s’more for me!
    xoS

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    • “Navigating arguments in other lands…” just had that opportunity while we were in Naples earlier in the Summer. I can imagine little Suzi with the pine needles stuck in between her toes. You didn’t care about the sleeping bag because you knew that your Momma would be washing them all after the camping trip and maybe hanging them on a line in the backyard? Perhaps. XO Thanks for sharing this with me, Suzi. Lovely memories, for sure.

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  2. Camping with the kids every August for a week at Dosewallups campground…looking for agates in the riverbed, Ben “caught” his first fish (with his hands…who cares if it was belly up floating by), going out clamming at the low tide in the morning and getting my 40 clam limit on my 40th birthday, swimming in the river and great water fights. Favorite thing was the big 500-1000 pice puzzle that we all worked on by lantern light, and who could ever forget the reel movies played by the park ranger for the little and big kids. Bicycling around all of the park loops, and yes the s’mores (try them with mini peanut butter cups)! Oh I love this and Barb? It brings back memories of doing the same thing with my parents when I was a kid. Thanks for taking e on a walk down memory lane.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank YOU for sharing some of your memories as a Momma and as a kid, Barb. I love imagining you all sitting around the puzzle… And I’ve had s’mores with peanut butter cups – DIVINE. There’s a reason I don’t pack them, I’ll eat them all! Thanks for sharing and for commenting!

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