I still have fond memories of camping with my family growing up. I can remember rushing home from school on Fridays so that I could help pack the camper and load the trunk of the car with my father. Talk about a life lesson; it was packing the trunk that taught me about shapes and cubic footage. This weekly ritual may have led me down the engineering path later in life. Between the beach toys, umbrellas, lounge chairs, and the barbeque, there wasn’t an inch to spare.
Our family was just a middle class with a small entertainment budget, and camping was a cheap alternative to fancy hotels and fine dining. Not only is camping a more cost-effective getaway, but it also offers greater enjoyment and will bring your family closer together.
A typical day would start with the smell of bacon cooking outside on the old Coleman camp stove, toast grilled on the campfire, and freshly-squeezed orange juice. I can smell it in my mind while writing this story. We would then sit down outside and enjoy a picnic breakfast. The whole family would participate in the preparation of the meal and sit down together and enjoy stimulating conversations.
For some reason, discussions at the dinner table, or should I say picnic table, are more open and invigorating when camping. Everyone is in a different state of mind away from the hustle and bustle of city life. We are relaxed, and our minds are free to dream and share our dreams. When camping, you could count on this dining interaction 3 times a day, each and every day.
Camping would always include a mid-day activity. It could be a relaxing day at the beach or a nature hike through the remote forest. Still today, I recall some of the nature lessons I learned on these hikes. I know exactly what trail we were on 40 years ago when I learned how to distinguish poison ivy from the other forest foliage.
Without a doubt, my favorite part of the family camping experience was capping off the day by relaxing around the campfire. The entire family would gather around and stare into the flames. We have whisked away to dreamland. Sitting enjoying the fire, we would share our dreams, some of which have come true today. As the sun set and the stars emerged, every night was a competition as to who would be the first to see the North Star, the Big Dipper, or create our constellations.
The lesson I learned from family camping is how it can bring a family closer and create lifelong memories. My wife and I are passing on this family tradition to our children. They too now have memories that will last forever, and despite being in their teens, they look forward to every new camping trip and the memories it will bring.