Camping growing up was the bee's knees for me. When I think of all the fond memories of my childhood, camping was numero uno!
I did not grow up in Virginia, so mine involve the below sea level of the sand dunes of the desert to the grand rugged peaks of the Sierra Nevada. Many of these areas are no longer available to the public overnight.
Yes, we did go to Disneyland as a child, stood in line in the heat for hours as we were assaulted by all the sights and sounds of life sized animated characters, spending tons of money I don't think our family had. I am sure my parents relented as they were being told to be "good parents" you must take your kids to the Magic Kingdom, and as kids we probably begged and pleaded to go.
But, my favorite memories were and still are of the times our family went camping!
Why did I love camping so much? Let me think back and try to articulate the reasons, you see it was an "experience" and tied to that is a lot of emotion, so to put it into words, well it is not that easy. *I hope you will share your stories and reasons for your fond memories of camping as well!
-awaking from a warm cozy sleeping bag even when the frost was falling outside before the sun came up
-bacon and eggs on a Coleman cook-stove sizzling
-smoke of the campfire lifting skyward
-hard cold "lawn chairs" around the campfire
-holding a mug of hot cocoa to warm my cold fingers as I sat on those chairs around the campfire
-laughing around the campfire – poking fun at my sister's "camp hair" or at mine
-birds, squirrels, rabbits and deer in the woods crunching on twigs and leaves
-baiting the hook
-untangling the knots in the line
-the sound of the river swirling and swishing past
-the crow sitting up in the tall tree on the other side of the river "Caw Caw!" waiting for us to catch a fish
-grabbing the net to collect the fish
-stringing up the fish
-proudly bringing the fish back to show mom
-dad cleaning the fish
-mom frying the fish over the fire in a cast iron skillet
-picking fish bones out of my mouth
-chasing each other, kicking up pine needles and other natural debris
-finding unique rocks and interesting pinecones (and sap glued to our finger tips)
-discovering trees that seemed like forts
-making our own bow and arrows from sticks we found
-venturing into the outhouse and racing out as fast as you could
-scared of snakes – and never seeing one
-scared of bears – and never seeing one (although at night with the weak illumination of the flashlight and plenty of moving shadows we thought we did!)
-hiking to the top of a bluff
Mom and Dad
-being there together
-no TVs no phones
-arriving after dark after falling asleep on the drive to arrive in a special place
-getting yelled at for opening the igloo too many times
-brushing our teeth in the ice cold stream (getting numb teeth)
-tent marriage therapy (this is when mom and dad attempt to put the tent up together)
-starting the fire (dad getting mad and cursing and blaming the green wood)
-lighting the lantern (dad getting mad and cursing the old mantles)
-sleeping in the tent together (dirty socks and all!)
-playing cards at the table with the red and white check table cloth
-jiffy pop on the open fire (burning most of it and eating it anyway)
-ghost stories around the glowing embers of the fire with the darkness outside the safety of the fire-ring
Now they have "glamping." They have satellite dishes on RV's that are too big to park in a camp-spot. They have WIFI. They have built in DVD players in vehicles to keep kids amused on the drive to the campground. Parents who won't let their kids get dirty. Parents who can't communicate, who need counseling if he/she gets mad or curses over lighting the campfire.
For all we have gained, what have we lost? Do you have any idea just how good that hamburger is that is cooked over an open fire? Or bacon that is sputtering and spitting in the great outdoors?
We had no idea at the time, how truly rich we were! I have two sisters – one lives in the Pacific NW the other in Ireland with their families. Would I give anything to be back around that campfire with them? Poking at the flames with sticks, joking and laughing heartily? YOU BET.
Please make plans to take your family camping at a Virginia State Parks provide comfortable and economical overnight accommodations, with 260 climate-controlled cabins and more than 1,700 campsites, ranging from primitive sites to developed sites with electric and water hookups. Many cabins are available year round.
My parents instilled a love for the great outdoors, especially my Dad who is an avid hunter and fisherman, always needing to be outside exploring what is over the next hill, he taught me to take care of what we have so we will always have it, he is a true conservationist. This he learned from his father and so it goes…
Make those memories now, your kids are counting on you!
*Join in the fun and conversation of your childhood camping memories with 21,000+ of your friends at the Virginia State Parks Facebook page here.