I have often heard people say that they grew up going camping as a family instead of staying in luxurious hotels because they were “poor” or couldn’t afford to stay in hotels. I was one of those people who grew up in a family that when going on vacations, for the most part, we went camping versus staying at a hotel. We went on nature walks, fishing, and swimming in a lake instead of going to Disney World or some other popular vacation spot. And you know what? For me, that was the best type of vacation my parents could have ever provided for me and our family. It is now what my husband and I have chosen as our own family’s main source of vacation.
Some of my best memories growing up, without a doubt, are going on our family camping trips. We actually went camping quite often. There was one particular camp ground that we always went to and drove about 2 hours to get there. Some of the things that I most remember doing on these camping trips were swimming and going out in the woods with my sister/s and often times by myself to explore. I liked making up stories about Native Americans, animals, and history while out exploring in the woods. Other things I remember are cooking on campfires, taking nature walks with my dad to look for deer, fishing with my dad, checking out the square dancing that other adults were doing in a big barn near our campgrounds at night, and then daydreaming a lot. I’ve mentioned before that being out in nature, I would always daydream. I would dream about my future and dream about what I wanted in life. I’d daydream about the joys in my life. Nature still does that for me.
There was one big vacation that my family went on the summer I turned 15. It was the biggest vacation we ever took and it was traveling out west. We lived in Florida, so we had to drive a long ways to get to the western states. We stayed in hotels some of the time during this trip, but we also camped in the mountains as well. Of all the places we visited and stayed at the whole trip, the only memories I still have from that vacation is when we camped or was out in nature. Oh and when I say camped, I mean camped in a tent. We did end up getting a pop up camper when I was much older, but for most of my years growing up, we had a good old fashioned tent to camp in.
During our big vacation out west, I remember the beautiful nature we were blessed to see and be in. I remember the animals. The antelope, the elk, and the bears. I remember the nature walks, the waterfalls, and the scenic drives on the mountains.
You see, these are the wonderful memories that I have as an adult. They were indeed rich and joyful experiences for me. I’m sure my parents did not realize how much exposing me to camping and nature would actually help me develop my passion for it now. When I was growing up, I may have thought that I wanted to go to all of the fancy places that other families were going to for vacation. But today, I am truly grateful that instead, my parents provided true beauty and lasting happy memories of camping and being out in nature for me. I am living proof that even if your youth or teen children act like they don’t want to go camping or get out in nature, and maybe they really don’t want to, they will benefit from doing so and one day, probably thank you and have a real love for nature as well as do the same with their own family. And then of course, there’s the family bonding and quality time that it provides.
Now as I mentioned, in our own family, we have continued making camping trips a priority and is our main type of vacations that we take. We will occasionally stay at a hotel and even go somewhere fancy, but camping is what we mostly focus on. Not because it’s cheaper (although it really is), but because my husband and I know the rich and beautiful memories that we are making with our family in doing so. We also go camping with my parents, my siblings, and all the cousins at least a couple times or more a year and it is so much fun having everyone together!
When I think about why camping has brought so many fond memories for me and why I’m so passionate about it now, I feel overall, it’s because it’s not only about family and connecting with each other and even connecting with nature, but about connecting with something greater than ourselves. So when I think about camping, I think of it as not a “poor” family’s vacation, but so much a rich family’s vacation. All of the riches that come along with it cannot be bought with money. No, these are riches that only one can experience when out in nature with family.