Camping wasn’t something that I grew up doing with my family. In fact, the first time I ever went camping was with a group of friends when I was a teenager. Even then, it wasn’t a regular thing, just something I did a few times.
When I met my husband, I became quite a bit more outdoorsy. He likes to fish, and he grew up camping. As soon as we started having kids, camping was something he was so excited to share with them.
I will admit that at first, I was a bit resistant. A vacation for me always included sight-seeing, restaurants, hotels, and shopping. As a child, we went to a theme park every year. Now, after being with my husband for 11 years, my perspective has definitely changed.
Don’t get me wrong–theme parks are fun. But I always come back broke and exhausted. Feeling like I need a vacation from my vacation! The sight-seeing, theme park vacation just doesn’t compare to camping anymore, and here are the reasons why:
1) Price- There are many spots that are free to camp at, and even if you have to pay, it is usually only $25-$50 per night. WAY cheaper than a hotel! Especially if you have a large family (raises hand) and usually have to spring for the suites. Camping is the same price whether you have 2 kids or 10. More costly expenses, such as a tent, sleeping bags, and cooking stove are one time expenses, unlike tickets to an amusement park. And you can find most things second hand for next to nothing. My husband found our tent at a thrift store in perfect condition, and it has lasted us about 5 years. It was in next to new condition when he found it. If you look around at yard sales, thrift stores, and Craigslist you can find almost anything you need for a fraction of the cost of buying new. You can also shop during the off-season to get good deals on gear.
2) Out of cell range- I love that I can’t check my Facebook every 5 minutes when I’m camping. My teen can’t post to Instagram. My husband can’t take work calls or check emails. We actually have to talk to each other and be present. We don’t have the stress of having to answer that text. My husband is upper management at his work, so he is never really off. Even when we go on dates, there is usually some pressing issue that he has to deal with. But when we are camping-all bets are off. The crisis must be figured out without his help, because he is just unreachable. Unreachable–That word can be a blessing!
3) The Stars- Have you ever stood on a cliff and watched the waves crash against the rocks below? Then looked out at the vast expanse of ocean, barely able to tell where the sea ends and the sky begins, and just felt so at peace? Like no matter what is raging below in your life-it’s all going to be okay. This life, like the ocean, is bigger than the day to day. That is what it’s like looking into the sky at night out in the wilderness, away from city lights. The stars are beyond explanation. They choke the sky with their presence, yet each is so unique-a perfect individual spot of light on a canvas of black. The sheer number of them will take your breath away. How anyone can look into that sky and not feel the presence of their Creator is beyond me. So perfect and yet so wild. Amazingly visible and mysterious at the same time. Beyond a doubt, the stars are my favorite part of camping.
4) Getting to know each other- When you are camping, you really have no choice but to talk to each other. Like I mentioned before, there is no cell service or wi-fi. No tv or other distractions. During this last trip, we taught one of our kids how to play rummy. Our oldest daughter learned how to gut and clean a fish. The heart to heart conversations seem to flow so easily when you are out in the middle of creation with just each other to keep you occupied. Camping has knit our family together and strengthened our bond every single time we have ever went. Theme parks are fun, but there is no time to really get to know each other while you are running from line to line, which brings me to my next point:
5) No schedule- There’s no alarm clock kicking you out of bed. No attraction or store hours ruling your day. No lines to stand in or shows to race to. Just calm, lazy days. It is so refreshing to get away from the daily grind for a while. I sat in my chair watching my kids play and got to finish almost all of the book I brought. We swam when we were hot and ate when we were hungry. We built a campfire at night and roasted marshmallows, telling jokes and stories. No bedtime, because we had no where to be the next morning, although right after dark the kids are usually exhausted and willingly climb into bed, leaving time for mom and dad to enjoy each other’s company.
These are just some of the reasons I love camping, and why I am so happy that my husband introduced us to it. I know we would be missing out if we only chose hotels and tourist vacations, although they can be fun occasionally too.
Do you enjoy camping? What is your favorite vacation to take with your family?