Why I recommend camping with kids (despite all the work)

Recently we went camping with our kids for the first time. This was quite a feat because we don’t own a car or any camping stuff and it took three cars from various generous friends in our parish to ferry our family of 8 there. Two other friends brought more of our stuff. We have such a welcoming parish!

We ordered a giant tent online (my tall husband can even stand up in it) but every thing else we borrowed. It was weeks of preparation… organizing all the supplies, looking up camping lists online and shopping for missing items, loading up on snacky food from Costco, etc. And when we returned it took a week to catch up on all the laundry and get back to normal. So why was it worth it anyway? How come we plan to do it all again next year, and look forward to it already?

  1. Because extended relaxed time in nature with kids is irreplaceable. It’s so much work to even get kids ready to go on a day trip to a park…you spend more time prepping and travelling than being there. Here the ratio is flipped. Unzip tent. Slip on flip flops. Run and play outside. Minimal prep and maximum play. 
  2. Because there’s something so healthy about kids being able to run free in the fresh air, unrestricted by busy schedules or worries about cars on busy roads. My little boy ran himself ragged in the grassy area and jumped and screamed for joy in the lake. Then he flopped down like a tired puppy and napped outside on the grass or by the beach. Once he even fell asleep leaning on a rock wrapped in his towel. For a little city boy with 4 big sisters, this kind of existence was a joyful revelation.  
  3.  Because spending time around the campfire with people you love while a huge yellow moon rises over the hill and stars begin to sparkle is unforgettable.
  4. Because waking up to hearing the birds sing is such a grounding experience…taken out of the frenzy of city life and endless beeps and bells, one feels once again a tiny part of the vastness of creation. Awe.
  5. Because having adventures together as a family is a bonding experience and helps you grow in friendship with each other. People have different love languages, but as much as your kids will always begging you for new stuff, what they really want is time with you. Give them the gift of uninterrupted time with you. 


    Only Stillness

    All of a sudden
    the lights are out
    at 7 pm
    just as we’re starting dinner

    It becomes a candlelit meal
    our family enclosed
    in a small circle of light
    my children’s faces
    illumined by the tiny flames

    There is nothing else to rush to
    no dishwashers or dryers
    no email or phone
    so we linger around the table laughing
    as our three year old
    makes up silly stories about babies
    and bunnies and when she was little
    and used to be a toy and a chocolate

    The kids pile easily into their new double bunk beds
    with the LED lantern lighting up
    their imaginary campground

    The baby gives up
    cooing at the candle
    and lets me rock him to sleep

    It is so quiet
    there is only stillness
    and this small circle of light