If there is one thing that I love doing with my family, it’s camping. My husband and I have been camping since the start of our relationship over 15 years ago. Since having our son, camping has become one of our favorite family activities. In fact, we love it so much, I figured I would tell all of you why camping is so awesome. There are so many reasons I could share, but I went ahead and just limited it to 10 in the interest of keeping it brief.
So, without further ado, here you go … TEN Reasons why camping belongs on your family’s summer bucket list.
1. The Food
Seriously. Camping food is the best ever. Maximum flavor from minimalist tools. You find ways to master cooking anything over an open fire or grill and with little in the way of gadgets. Pudgy Pies (or also known as Campfire Pies) are my personal favorite. It is so simple that you can throw two slices of bread together and fill them up with pie filling, pizza toppings, or even nutella and bananas for a gourmet treat, and cook them in a pie iron on the open campfire. The result? A delectable treat that appeals to any palate. It is also a great excuse to grill fun things like boudin or hot dogs on a stick…or even s’mores!!! I mean, really, is it camping without making a batch of s’mores? (By the way, try making them with peeps. You can thank me later.)
2. The Scenery
Once upon a time long ago (before child) we used to go camping in a tent. There is nothing like sleeping in a tent to remind you about the beauty of God’s creations around you. You fall asleep to the sound of crickets and frogs, and you wake up to the sound of birds calling out to each other, all while you can sometimes see shooting stars in the dark night sky. (Most tents have ceiling “windows” for when the weather is nice). Yes, sometimes there are bugs and wild animals out and about (remind me to tell you the story about how raccoons broke into our cooler and stole our dinner), but there is so much more to admire. Every time we go camping, I am reminded of all of nature’s beauty around us, whether it is on a late evening walk where we see deer feeding or watch lightning bugs start to shine in the distance. Sometimes, in the early morning, there is nothing more beautiful than seeing dew covered leaves and fog rise on the swampy area of Lake Pontchartrain at Fontainebleau.
One of my favorite parts about camping is making a campfire and sitting around it until the wee hours having great conversation with my people. The campfire often becomes an event for us. We start out by checking out the whole park and campground, scouting out good firewood and collecting it. From our camping adventures around Louisiana, we have discovered that cypress smells divine when it burns in a campfire, it gives off a sweet smell and keeps bugs away! Often, we will start the campfire around dinner so that we can roast s’mores and cook dinner, but once the kids are asleep, we love to sit around and chat for hours. When it has been a small trip for just our little family, Scott and I have had some of our best conversations and really connected over the campfire. Sometimes I want to make a campfire in our own backyard just so we can connect like that after bedtime. When we camp with friends and family, some of the silliest and most fun times are had around the campfire, especially when games like Catch Phrase or Cards Against Humanity are involved!
Want to take a vacation, but you can’t afford a trip to the beach? Going camping for a weekend costs about the same as staying in a condo for ONE night at the beach, sometimes even less. Some local campgrounds and state parks even HAVE beaches! I know so many people who say “There is no way I can go camping, there is no running water or electricity!” That CAN be the case if you are camping in the “primitive” area. However, you can get a site with electricity and water and even have air conditioning in your tent should you want it (I’ve seen it done!) Also, all campgrounds have bathhouses with toilets and showers (with hot water!) and everything you could possibly need. The average cost to rent a campsite at most state parks is approximately $30 a night. If you add in some groceries for the weekend, you have spent less than $200 to get away. There is so much to do while camping, that there is rarely a need to leave the park, but there is always the opportunity to go out and do something fun! If you want a campground that is less like “camping” and more of a place with scheduled activities and amenities, you can always head to a private campground like Jellystone, Indian Creek, or one of our favorites, Cajun Palms, for some great family fun. No matter what your preference, there are plenty of camping options within a quick drive from New Orleans.
5. Sunrises & Sunsets
One of life’s most rewarding gifts of nature is the gift of a sunrise and sunset. When we go camping, I relish those few moments when the sun is coming up or setting for the evening. There is just something so gratifying about being able to watch the sun start its descent into the horizon without a ton of distractions to get in the way. It’s as simple as sitting in our camping chair with a beer or glass of wine in hand and letting nature take over. As a hobby photographer, I’ve long learned to love the “golden hour” when the sun is rising or setting for the beautiful glow it provides in pictures. But when I’m not behind the camera, the glow is even more breathtaking because it seems to capture the moment into a memory forever.
When we go on vacation, we always like to include our dog, Maggie. However, it is often very difficult to bring pets along for vacations, especially when going to the beach. Pet friendly rentals are around, but they are often quick to book up and putting her for a stay at a kennel can get expensive. When you go camping, pets are always welcome, and often encouraged. Maggie always has a blast when we go camping, too. She always gets lots of friendly visits from other families, and she loves to take walks and be outside in her “element.” Camping is like a five star vacation for the dog!
Whether we are just camping with our little immediate family or partnering with our extended family or friends, camping provides an immediate sense of community. When you take walks through the campground, you often make new friends along the way and wind up sharing stories with park rangers or with fellow campers over an ice cold beer or a burnt marshmallow. You ever notice when you tailgate at Saints games or LSU games, people want to share and join up? The same goes with camping. There is just an unspoken sense of community that actually speaks words about the goodness of people and the healing power of the outdoors.
Little known fact about me: up until the age of 10, I wanted to be an astronaut. I had a telescope and loved looking at the stars at night. Only problem was that all of the lights of the suburbs and city sort of ruined my view. When you go camping, there is not a ton of light to block your views and on a clear night in the summer, you can see so many stars and constellations or even take a bike ride that is lit only by the light of a full moon. Have you ever seen a shooting star? Or do you want to spot one with your kids? The Perseid showers happen every summer and are a pretty amazing site. Go camping and look out for them and make a wish!
9. Bare Minimums
Camping definitely leads the way to making the most out of a little. Not only can you get away with wearing your comfiest clothes, no makeup, and sporting a ball cap all weekend, but you can also make the most out of the weekend with very little. Bring the bare necessities, a few bikes, and maybe a board game or two, and you may just realize how much fun life can be without all of the distractions.
Do you need to take a break from your smartphone, computer, the city, or just the daily hustle and bustle of life, in general? Camping provides it for you whether you want it to or not. Most campgrounds boast free wi-fi, but honestly, it is usually sporadic. In the interest of saving the data on your phone plan (and actually enjoying your trip), you wind up disconnecting yourself from the outside world. The lure of the outdoors and the people around you make you forget about that tiny little computer in your pocket. All of your household duties and chores are forgotten. You can leave the laundry, bill payments and work behind and just enjoy what is around you. Instead of connecting to Facebook or email, you wind up being connected to something far better: nature, simple pleasures, and most importantly, your family!