What Can Possibly Go Wrong Camping? – Part 5 – Summer Vacation Series
Camping – a Great Way to Spend a Summer Vacation
My family is a camping family and has been for many years.
Our particular “flavor” of camping has been influenced by several factors:
- We raised four daughter/campers
- We started out young, inexperienced in camping and poor
- We used borrowed and untried equipment to start
- We set up our first tent in the rain for our first-ever camping experience
- We had so much fun on our first camping trip we became lifelong campers and so are some of our daughters and their families
Let me tell you a little bit about our camping experiences and hope this will motivate you to try it for yourselves.
How it all Got Started
We borrowed a tent, Coleman Stove and a Coleman Lantern from Lynn’s brother who was an Eagle Scout, the highest rank in the Boy Scouts.
Foolishly, we never unfolded the old tent so we didn’t know there were no tent poles or stakes included.
We also didn’t know that there were several small holes in the cotton canvas tent.
So, we packed up our small compact car with our baby daughter and her carriage body as a bed and the two cots that Lynn’s brother had also provided.
We headed on a 175 mile trip through (unknown in advance) major road construction in the middle of a strong thunderstorm. We feared that we would never restart if we were forced to stop on the very muddy roadbed.
We made it to the campground at dusk in a light rain.
Our friends had saved the site next to theirs for us and we and they set about erecting the tent, only to find out there were no poles or stakes.
My friend went into the woods and cut down two small trees and stripped off the branches to make the tent poles and stakes. This was a big NO-No and we were found out and fined $30, a week’s food budget at the time.
We then realized we had no floor for the tent. If we got a downpour, we got a flood. (We didn’t get a downpour).
Next, we realized that the floor area of the tent was ALMOST EXACTLY the size of the baby carriage body and ONE cot.
By now it was dark and we bedded down our daughter and squeezed ourselves onto the one cot.
We discovered that every time a large drop of water fell from a pine tree overhead, our canvas tent would allow a mist of tiny droplets to filter through and mist us!
So, to make a long an very memorable camping start story a bit shorter, all I can say is that when the sun and warm temperatures returned on the last full day of our four-day stay, we were hooked on camping.
We were also determined to upgrade our knowledge and preparation process and to upgrade our equipment.
The Next Step Up
After a couple of years off to have another daughter, we decided to rent a small Pop Up trailer for a week and try again.
We bought our own Coleman Stove and Coleman Lantern. We bought a large food cooler and smaller water cooler.
We also bought a large tarp or “fly” to provide a rain cover over our camper and the eating space outside.
We got all the smaller items that our camper friends told us were absolute necessities and we headed to Vermont for a week at at Lake Bomoseen State Park.
Getting ourselves off the ground and dry with appropriately large bedding accommodations made us feel that we had found all we would ever want in camping.
We had a wonderful week for ourselves and two small daughters.
We continued this mode of camping for a few years until…
Bigger Family, Bigger Camper Trailer
We added a third daughter to the family and decided to take an ownership step by purchasing an 18 foot “self-contained” (stove, fridge, bathroom, lights and hot and cold water, heater and air conditioner) trailer.
We expanded our reach to the point that one year we took a 32 day cross country trip during which we visited over a dozen National Parks and logged nearly 10,000 miles!
Our maturing brood of daughters reported that the best part of the new trailer was the ability to plug it into 120 volts to allow them to use hot rollers for their hair. They also loved the ability to take hot showers without walking through the woods to the public bathrooms of the campgrounds. For Lynn and me, it was the comfortable queen size bed we had.
Fast Forward Fourteen Years
As our first daughter was in her college years, our fourth daughter arrived surprising us all.
Once again, after a few years away from camping, we had decided to sell our trailer. We now needed a new one so we could introduce our youngest daughter to the joys of camping.
This time we bought a lightweight 24 foot trailer and enjoyed it both with our daughter (and often one of her friends), and later, by ourselves.
Our Final Camping Experience (I think)
All of our daughters are now out on their own and I am retired.
We found it necessary to provide care for Lynn’s aging parents who were facing serious health problems. We once again turned to camping as a respite or getaway from that stress for a few days at a time.
One particular time, our usual campground was full and we really felt we needed the time away. We found another RV Park that we immediately fell in love with.
The owner of Park was also a builder and offered to custom build “park model” units that seemed like palaces. They were 14′ by 40′ with an additional 11′ by 22′ three- season porch and deck. We purchased one of these camps and have been occupying it 6 months of the year and living in Florida the other 6 months for over a decade.
So what should you do if you have never camped?
Do something like we did.
Start at the bottom, be flexible and see if it suits you like it suited us.
If it does, and I bet it will, work your way up for a lifetime of great times with great fellow campers (the best people in the world!)
There’s still time to start this year, but hurry!
Surely, there are comments to be shared on this subject, so jump in.
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