I’m not a camper. I grew up camping but no longer consider myself a camper. We had a tent trailer when I was little and camped a lot with my family. When my husband and I first met we bought a ton of camping equipment, a tent, pots, pans, stove ‘ you name it. We camped rain, shine and snow. Once we even had to shovel snow just to put our tent up. That all changed the year my Mum bought a recreational property. It was so much ‘easier’ to hit the road with a relatively empty car ‘ a few groceries in tow ‘ and arrive to warm showers, a roof over our heads, a stove, fridge, dishwasher, comfortable beds and not having to shovel your camping spot out before setting up camp.
Years past, we got married, had two kids and it was still just easier. Actually to be honest, camping never even crossed my mind. Sure, there were elements I missed, fires, cooking over the hot coals, etc., but it wasn’t something I thought about often.
Then in early 2015 my husband showed me a commercial that changed my mind. (I know about marketing, my husband’s in the business. I know what they’re trying to accomplish, I don’t usually fall for sales pitches but all of a sudden I couldn’t get this commercial out of my head).
It was the Go RVing ‘ Bring Back Wildhood commercial. Maybe it’s because I’m a Mum now and this ad spoke to me. Maybe it’s because I saw this and thought, ‘our kids don’t get to explore like we used to.’ Or maybe it’s because I saw it and it reminded me of my own childhood. Whatever the reason, I saw it and thought’ ‘wow! We need to take the kids camping.’
A couple of months later my husband asked if I would want to borrow an RV from our good friends at Bucars RV to go on a camping road trip for a few days in the spring. We’d talked about it in passing before and I had always turned my nose up at it. This time, much to his surprise ‘ and a bit to mine, I said yes.
We decided we would go just before the May long weekend. We’d head west to Vancouver Island before the masses hooked up their trailers, jumped in their RVs and hit the road, but still nice enough that we would have good weather. Off we went.
We wanted the ‘road trip’ and wanted to stop at all those places you never stop at because you’re in a rush to get to your destination. We wanted to be able to take our time, to make unplanned stops, to see interesting roadside turnouts and not have to say ‘maybe next time.’ To officially enjoy the journey and not have it all about the destination.
We spent a good month or so planning our trip. Investigating campsites along our planned route, ensuring we would only have to drive a few hours each day.
We chatted with people, asking for recommendations, used Google maps to find campgrounds and routes, looked at reviews ‘ all those things you do when selecting a place to stay.
I started looking at fun and interesting recipes and how best to cook food on a campfire – thank you Pinterest! I made a meal plan for our breakfasts, lunches, dinners and snacks depending on if we were going to be at a campsite or whether it was a ‘travel’ day and we needed something that would be easy enough for kids to eat in the car. Did I mention our kids are four and one’ That meant peanut butter and jam sandwiches were on the menu frequently during road trip days. Those and cream cheese and cucumber! We made an itinerary with all the dates, addresses, confirmation numbers. The planning was fun. More time consuming then only visiting one place, but that’s what made this trip interesting.
I won’t go into in-depth details about our trip: the sites we took in (lots), the places we stayed (six), or how many kilometres we put on the motorhome (2600 or so). What I will tell you about is how much fun we had as a family: days spent exploring creeks, pathways, forests, running on beaches and chasing waves, biking, picking up crabs, sand dollars, finding abandoned seashells or those occupied by unexpected creatures, playing with snails and slugs, getting dirty, laughing.
Nights were spent cooking over a wood burning fire, roasting marshmallows, making s’mores. Kids staying up till it was dark (WAY past their normal bed times), and then crawling into their bunkbeds to dream about all they saw that day. Me and my hun would spend the rest of the night chatting away by a smouldering fire with a glass or two of vino. Talking of our plans for the future, what we want to accomplish as a couple and the dreams we have for our family. We connected in a way we haven’t done in a very long time’maybe even ever. Day after day, night after night. New adventures, new sites, new experiences and a whole new connection as a family.
It was one of the best family vacation we have EVER had. Even months later as I write this, I look back on our time together with a smile on my face. I have to admit, however cheesy I may come across for saying so, going on this RV trip brought back my Wildhood. I saw how much me, my husband and our children benefited from the experience and maybe, just maybe I can call myself a camper again.
Meagan Shultz is an Event Manager extraordinaire, super Mum, and born and raised Calgarian (and now, potentially, an RVer).
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