Life is relationships; the rest is just details.
I have great memories of spending time outside during the summer months. We spent time hiking, exploring, camping, playing in the neighborhood and reading books under the tree in the front yard (the boys would climb in the tree and read their books). I asked our sons what some of their favorite summer activities were. It did not surprise me that many of the things they enjoyed as a child they still enjoy as adults. One of the things on the list was camping. Our sons experienced many kinds of camping – tent camping, RV camping, backyard camping and pretend camping.
We camped with family and with friends. We had camping trips full of traditions that included ‘we always do this’ activities, we had planned road trips to new places and spur of the moment camping fun. The trip with the most history was an annual trip to Mt Rainier with family friends. We started this tradition when Nick was 4 and Joel was 6. The longest trips were the road trips in my parents’ motorhome and our spur of the moment campouts were the ones on our deck in the backyard.
When we camped at Cougar Rock on Mt Rainier we always went hiking up a certain trail to go fishing and we always picked huckleberries as we hiked up the trails near Paradise. We have camped in the rain (once it was raining so hard we were unable to make a campfire and the boys made gutters out of tree bark to try and keep the tent dry). Once we forgot the tent poles and had to sleep in the Bronco – all four of us! Dealing with these unplanned circumstances allowed us to bond as a family while we problem solved and dealt with the problem as a family. We all have great memories of these campouts. Now that Joel and Nick are adults we have not been camping at Cougar Rock but we do make sure to have at least one day trip to Mt Rainier each year. We still go hiking up 'that trail' and we have introduced Greta and Danielle to our special places to fish and have taken them on our hikes up around Paradise.
On clear evenings in the summer (or on weekends after school had started) we would ‘camp’ on our deck under stars. We would snuggle down and sleep out under stars. The deck campouts were convenient – bathroom nearby, nothing needed to be packed up and I never worried about forgetting something. Even though the process was different the product was the same – family time spent talking and building relationships.
For our family, camping has many meanings but the two things that make it real ‘camping’ were: a sleeping bag and a campfire. There is something about sleeping in a sleeping bag that brings a sense of adventure and something about a fire that brings conversation and laughter. We would stay up late and tell stories, laugh about family memories and share favorite moments from the day. Making s’mores and gathering around the fire are still things I look forward to when we have a chance to go camping. Curt and I do not tent camp as much as we used to but I love that both Joel and Danielle as well as Nick and Greta go on their own camping trips. It is a family tradition that has been passed on from one generation to the next. Even though we do not camp together like we used to, when we are all together at the Camano house, we do the next best thing to camping – we have a fire in the fire pit, make s’mores and tell stories under the evening stars.
What if camping is not an activity you enjoy? Give your child a big bed sheet and make a tent with it (or set up a real tent in the yard). Kids love to be inside tents. I would set up a tent in our backyard during the summer as a playhouse. They would take their toys and books out to the tent, close the flap and play all afternoon. One year we had a windstorm during the night and the next morning we found our tent up the street – luckily all of their little animals and books were still inside! They enjoyed camping in the backyard all summer long. Last year during preschool the kids enjoyed playing camping. They found sticks and cooked the fish they had caught over the fire. On another day one of the parents made a pretend fire and the children sat around and told campfire stories as they roasted their pretend marshmallows. I loved watching as the pretend fire became real to these children. It was a time for sharing stories and enjoying being outside in nature – and for them it was not our play area but they were up on a mountain camping next to a roaring fire.
This is the first in the summer time activities with children series. There are several reasons that camping strengthens the bond you have with your child. When you camp you are spending time together in nature. Being outdoors reduces your stress and gets you outside and ‘unplugged’ from technology. Rarely do you go camping without some unplanned surprise. Some are positive – a deer walks through your campsite as you sit down for breakfast, your child sees his first shooting star, you hear family stories you have never heard before while sitting around the fire. Some of the surprises are not as pleasant – you forget the tent poles for your dome tent, it pours down rain, no one packed the main ingredient for the dinner you had planned. All of these surprises add up to memories that build strong families. As you deal with problems you develop a strong bond, you have a chance to use your problem solving skills
Camping With Children
Campsites Near Seattle