Camping is part of our family culture. It seems like people either love or hate camping. I get that it is not easy and glamorous. However, if you have never camped before it would be worth your time to give it a try. You may be surprised that you actually enjoy sleeping in the outdoors.
When Mike and I were newlyweds, camping looked much different than it does now as a family of 5. Before having kids, we slept in a tent without any services or amenities nearby. We camped to get out into nature away from people and the city. Those early years were spent hiking, fishing, and hanging out at our campsite.
Camping in the Outback of Australia was the last time that I slept in a tent on the ground. Mike and I took a babymoon to Australia in the summer of 2012. We had some good friends that were living in Sydney at the time so we figured it was a perfect time to explore Australia. I was 20 weeks pregnant and still feeling active.
We decided that we would rough it while we explored Uluru Rock and King’s Canyon in the Outback. When we traveled, it was our summer but Australia’s winter. We borrowed our friends’ camping supplies and took a quick flight to the middle of the country. The first night we set up the tent and I pulled all my warm layers on. It was freezing and somehow we managed to set the tent up on a bunch of rocks.
I am not sure if I slept more than a few minutes that night. I was cold, uncomfortable, and sleep-deprived. That morning I vowed that I was done sleeping in a tent. Pregnant women shouldn’t be sleeping on the ground. Mike pulled some strings to get us a hotel room the next night. Thankfully, we lived it up in Cairns by the Great Barrier Reef and now we laugh about our last night in a tent.
Making memories is a big part of camping. I get a lot of skeptical looks when I tell people we are a camping family but I hope that after you read why we love it that you will give it a try too.
camping vs. hotel
Our girls all camped before they were one year old. I feel like it is easier to camp with children when we traveled than stay in a hotel room. When it is bedtime at a campground, we put our kids to bed in the pop-up and stay up late talking around the campfire. We still have access to the bathhouses after the girls are tucked in.
When we stay at a hotel, Mike and I end up going to sleep when the girls do since we are usually all in the same room. I find it more difficult to spread out and have space when we stay at hotels.
There is always fun to have around the campground. I love that the girls can bike, swim, play shuffleboard and make new friends all while we are within earshot of them. We stay at campgrounds that offer outdoor activities so that we do not have to leave to have something to entertain the girls.
Jellystone Campground in Warrens, Wisconsin, is one of our favorites. They have a bicycle glow parade, train rides, mini-golf, waterpark, beach, and other fun activities that the girls can go enjoy as long as they stick together.
With so many activities for the girls, Mike and I can hang back at our site part of the day. We frequently check in on them by walking by where they are supposed to be or putting on our swimsuits and joining in on the fun.
When we travel as a family, I prefer not eating out at quick-service restaurants three meals a day. I try to prepare healthy, balanced meals for my family, which is difficult to find at a restaurant. One benefit of camping is being able to cook our own meals. I plan out all of our meals ahead of time, grocery shop, and prep all the food before we leave home.
At the campground, we use an electric skillet and the grill for cooking. To make mealtime easy, I have the meat ready to be put on the grill, the baked goods already made, and the side dish is either a cold salad or a recipe that can be warmed up quickly.
The first thing that comes to mind when I think about the culture of a campground is how friendly other campers are. We get to know more about our camping neighbors than people we come across in other areas of life. It is fun to hear about where people are from, where their travels have taken them, and their camper set up. I have met some of the friendliest people on these trips.
It feels neighborly at a campground. There is a common curiosity that is noticeable. Our kids are able to roam more freely throughout the grounds than in our neighborhood. Cars drive slower and are always looking out for kids. The girls are given more independence and can spread their wings a bit more in this setting.
Camping is not easy and we usually fall into bed exhausted at the end of the night. We play hard all day long. We are continually fixing meals, cleaning up after a meal, building a fire, biking, swimming, or hiking. Working as a team to enjoy our day helps us create family memories.
Some of the most memorable stories are ones of overcoming obstacles or struggling through due to bad weather. We come home with tons of dirty clothes, dirty dishes, and plenty of work to do. These trips are adventurous + refreshing but not relaxing. When we talk about family memories, it’s our camping trips that get brought up first.
Each summer, we look forward to camping as a family. We take the adventure with the extra work and receive many family memories. If you haven’t ever gone camping, you should give it a try. Be sure to plan meals, activities, and pick a campground with the amenities that suit your family. National Parks make a for a great camping experience as well.
If you do not own a camper and would like to give camping a try, Outdoorsy is a great website to rent a camper that meets your needs. You can use this referral link to earn $50 towards your first rental.
Where is your favorite place to camp?
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