Hi everyone—happy summer!
I haven’t seen you all in a while! One of the great things our family did recently this summer was take the kids camping.
I think this is our third summer camping. I know some people go camping, and sometimes people think it’s glamping. Here’s what we do: we drive to a spot within a family campground, and we take out our tent. Yes, we sleep in sleeping bags on the ground. My husband thinks it’s glamping because we’re in a tent and there’s a nearby toilet. But I still think that’s camping. Whatever you call it, we absolutely love camping with the kids.
Growing up, I only went camping a few times. My husband only started camping in adulthood, but it’s something we really love to do with our girls. They’re currently 6 and almost 8 years old. I guess we started when they were about 3 and almost 5. And while there are a whole lot of reasons to go camping, I thought of three reasons why camping is great—three reasons that happen to begin with C.
As you can imagine, in some areas cell phones don’t even work, so you’re totally disconnected from Instagram, Facebook, text messages, and all the little ding-ding-ding-dings that normally happen throughout the day. Now, that’s a disconnection.
We camp on the Delaware River, and for us getting there is about a two-hour drive. It’s absolutely beautiful. During the drive, we sing, we talk, we play games, we do whatever, and we are all super psyched for our weekend ahead.
Now that the girls are bigger, they’re able to help once we’re there. They help get the poles into the right places and help set up the tent. They help set up our areas for food and set up the tablecloths. Whatever there is to do, they do, which is awesome.
We get to laugh and experience things together, and it’s just so great. Sometimes we go as a family of four and sometimes we go with friends. It’s another way that we’re building even more connections with friends. It’s just so peaceful and quiet and I absolutely love it.
I have a list—a Word document—that includes all the things we need to bring whenever we go camping. I go over it every time we go, to make sure I do my part, and my husband does his part.
One section says, toys for the kids. Before this trip, I went to the basement and spent about half an hour trying to fill up two little backpacks for them.
What do I bring?
What’s not going to get dirty?
What is easy to wash off?
What’s not made of plush material that’s not going to latch onto dirt or bugs or anything like that?
Guess what? I packed up the two backpacks and the kids didn’t use any of it! I couldn’t believe it. There were so many times I said to my friend, “Look at the kids. Look at the kids! Why did I spend half an hour looking for toys, when they’re playing with dirt and sticks?”
Here’s why: creativity.
Creativity happens when there’s boredom. When there’s nothing else going on, and you’re outside. What an amazing opportunity to find leaves and branches and rocks and so many other things to create. I know it’s not always that easy, but this time it was!
The kids were in heaven for hours, playing with the two other little girls we were with. They all just played and played and played. There was no need for adult interference, to tell them what to do, what not to do, how to play, how not to play. It was all about their outdoor creativity and connecting with nature, which was amazing.
When you’re camping, you’re living out in the woods. I say “living”—we did two nights, so we were living, for a weekend, with people everywhere. When we walked to the water, when we walked to get our raft*, when we went to the shop, when we went to the restroom—anything—we were passing other people.
“Hey, how are you?”
“Where are you from?”
We’re connecting with our community. We’re getting to know people who we wouldn’t otherwise know.
Camping = Connections + Creativity + Community
I just think camping is so incredible. It’s such a great pastime. During the school year we’re busy playing sports and afterschool activities and playing with friends. As the girls get older, and there are more opportunities for them to be independent—so it will be important to find ways to keep the family together for special occasions like camping.
I didn’t grow up going camping. I really didn’t start going until I was about 15 or 16 years old. So now that my kids are starting from a young age, my hope is that this is something we can continue. Maybe we can even do it when we’re grandparents and we bring our little grandkids!
If you get the chance to go, give it a shot. It might not be for everyone, but if you know me, you’re welcome to borrow my stuff if you want to give it a try!
If you need any tips, reach out to me. I’d be happy to give them to you!
Take care and have a great summer!
*We went rafting with Indian Head Canoes & Rafts. If anyone is in the NJ / Pennsylvania area, this place has a really great setup for rafting down the Delaware and for camping in the area.