family at Grand Canyon

Emily Buckley, editor in chief 

Last year we did something crazy. Something I can honestly say I never thought I would do. I joke that “quarantine made me do it,” and I actually think it is true. Had all our vacation plans for summer 2020 not been canceled, I likely would have never seriously considered it. 

About a month into 2020’s “quarantine,” when all of our summer plans began to crumble, my husband, Bryan, suggested we purchase a camp trailer. To his surprise, and mine, I said, “Let’s do it.”

He grew up camping, I most definitely did not. So, with my stamp of approval, he acted quickly and four days later we were off on our first camping adventure, before I could change my mind. 

I know, I know, camping in a trailer is not really roughing it, but it was a big step for me, and our family made invaluable memories and learned life lessons doing it.

A few of the best lessons learned from our newfound family tradition:

Camping builds a sense of adventure. A new environment, unfamiliar sights and sounds, cooking outside, and building a fire all make for a fun-filled adventure. A sense of adventure is a quality that ensures life remains open and full of possibilities. 

Positivity is contagious, and “going with the flow” will make everyone happier. A lesson we learned very quickly is that, when it comes to camping, and really any family adventure, things rarely go as planned. Something usually breaks, something else is forgotten at home, and the weather forecast is almost never accurate. How we, as parents, responded to these challenges was always reflected in our kids’ behavior and the general outlook for the day.

My kids can hike farther than I (or they) thought but taking our time (and a little bribery) is essential. I was amazed at how far my kids could hike as we explored new places and trails last summer. They noticed too. It was so fun to see how proud of themselves they were after completing a difficult seven-mile hike. We all developed a greater appreciation for our bodies and for nature as we hiked together. It wasn’t uncommon to spot them carrying out litter they found along the trail or stopping to take in a beautiful view. With patience, plenty of water, and a reward at the end (whether it was a waterfall to play in or an ice cream treat back at camp), we discovered we could hike farther and harder than any of us expected. 

Disconnecting is a gift. No wi-fi? Yes, please! Watching my kids play in the dirt, build fairy houses out of leaves and sticks, and wade in small streams are memories that I will treasure forever. These are things I often overlook while I’m busy with my usual daily work and activities.

Now that spring is in the air, our family can hardly wait to go camping again. By being open to something completely out of my comfort zone, I gave myself the gift of more quality time and priceless memories with my ever-growing children. That’s something I’ll always be grateful for. 

I hope you too are finding ways to make life an adventure as a family!