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Parenting Goal: Camping Edition

Rachel O'Reilly

Thomas Story

Thomas Story

By Courtney Ward

When I envision the childhood I want for my daughter, it includes things that I didn’t do in mine, like camping. I grew up in Orange County, near the beach. Our vacations were mostly to Colorado to ski every winter. Camping was the last thing my Mom wanted to do.

Now that I have a child, sleeping in the great outdoors seems like the perfect family activity and I’ve been thinking about it more than I care to admit. I picture us all around a campfire roasting hot dogs, telling funny stories, wearing Patagonia fleece jackets and Ugg boots. I guess it needs to be cold which leads me to another point, I don’t even know where to go. I also don’t even like hot dogs, but the visual I have in my head includes them so I’m going with it.

A few months ago I was getting my bridesmaid dress altered for my best friend’s wedding. My seamstress is a wise Great Grandmother and further sparked my interest for tackling this family tradition. She said in her family, they camped all the time with her kids and even go now with their grandchildren. She spoke of it with the same fondness that my husband and I do of our trips to Paris pre-babe.

A Grandfather, who was also there getting some pants taken in, shouted from the dressing room, “Take her camping! For our family, it was the glue that stuck us together.”


Now that really stuck with me (pardon the pun). Often times, I receive (and dismiss) unwarranted parenting advice from strangers, but I try to heed the wisdom from elders, especially when it’s a good nugget like this that’s straight from the heart. I actually wrote this quote down right then in my phone and look at it to further motivate me to pull the camping trigger.

Here’s the thing: I know nothing about how to camp. I don’t even know where to start, except I know I need a tent and a sleeping bag and a flashlight and some hot dogs. Beyond that, I’m lost.

Last summer, my family took a road trip to Southern California to visit my Mom and stopped at this great place, El Capitan Canyon. Although I hate the term, we glamped for one night and it was so much fun. We stayed in a little yurt that had beds and electricity. My daughter loved it, especially making her own s’mores and waking up under the trees. They have a nice pool and play structure for kids and little log cabins to stay in, if fabric for walls isn’t your thing. It’s a great in between place to stop if you are driving from San Francisco to Orange County and also an awesome gateway camping excursion. Next time I want to stay for a couple more days to let sleeping in nature soak in and get a fuller experience.

I guess it doesn’t really matter as long as you go for it, right? What I have realized about parenting, is that adventure and taking that leap is what creates good memories and often that’s what kids cherish the most.

Do you have any new parenting goals for this spring that you would like to share? Tell us in the comments below!