Every year since our boys were toddlers, we've gone camping at least once a summer. And every year, at the 18th hour of packing up for our trip, I question our decision to go. It doesn't help that my 14 year old has never liked camping and my husband is right there with him. Still, my husband is a good guy and continues to go because he knows how much I love it. Our teenager goes because this is one of those few things we don't give him a choice about. And our youngest loves every minute of camping - he's the easy sell. So we carry on, each year planning another trip...usually sometime in the dead of winter when any sort of warm weather activity sounds appealing.
Over the years, we've streamlined our process and now have our camping bins stocked and ready to go. We've also finally acquired all of the gear to make our stay as comfortable as possible. Still, it does require hours and hours of food prep and car loading, plus the unpacking at the end of your trip. It's basically a lot of pleasure sandwiched between a lot of "bloody hells", but I'm here to tell you that it's still worth it. After this last trip, my family (and friends) now agree with me.
I am not one who's ever needed any convincing to go camping, I love everything about it. But maybe you've been curious about why people go through all that work to sleep on the ground. Here's why I do it.
1. There is no other way to spend an extended amount of time with friends and family, connecting, laughing and adventuring without technology. Sure you can use a phone at most campgrounds, but we don't do it. It's a break. From. Screens.
And we welcome it.
2. The smell of pine. Is there anything better??
3. The wildlife - birds, red squirrels, deer, moose. Holy cow do we get up close and personal with wild animals when we camp. It's exciting and entertaining...and I'm sure they're thinking the same thing about us.
4. Morning coffee made with love. You can't just set the timer on the coffee pot the night before and wake up to pour your cup half asleep. Nope. Coffee while camping requires the lighting of the Coleman stove, waiting for water to boil, then scrambling through layers of food in your cooler to locate the cream. It's the hardest earned, best damn cup of coffee you'll have all year.
5. Slowing down. Everything requires more effort and time when you camp. This may sound like a bad thing, but it's actually the thing I love the most. It's a forced slow down. You have no choice, and it feels really good once you get there.
6. Being surrounded by fresh air and natural beauty. The sunrises, sunsets, and light filtering through pine trees is pure nourishment. I'm convinced that being outside all day for an extended period of time changes you on a cellular level. They've done plenty of studies on this, but who needs the studies when you can experience it.
7. It's affordable. We started camping when our kids were little and we were living paycheck to paycheck. Back then, it was the only kind of vacation we could afford. Although we've acquired more expensive gear over time, we started with next to nothing and did just fine. Plus, there are plenty of stores that offer used camping gear now. My favorite is the Portland Gear Hub. You could also just borrow supplies from a friend who already owns it. Anyone who loves camping will happily share their gear with you. Trust me.
Camping isn't for everyone, but if you're willing to try, it does get better and easier over time. One of those great things that just takes patience, practice and learning. Here are some pictures from our last trip to Moosehead Lake.
If you want any tips on where to go or what to pack, reach out to me. I would love to help get you started!