What I Learned About Camping This Year

Legion State Park was our first camping trip of the year.  The historic buildings on this site were beautiful.

Camping is a lesson in learning how to slow down, breathe and just live.  During my regular day to day, I'm rushing from one task to the next.  I'm scheduled months in advance for every facet of my life.  There is no better feeling than pulling into a campground to just shut it all out for a few days.

My friend Christy describes camping as a lot of work but also describes me a loving the work.  Yes to both.  It is a purposeful work that is different from anything else that I do in life.  2017 was a learning year for me.  Reflecting is the best part of the end of my year.  I'm not a resolutions kind of girl.  I'm more of the goal setting type.  What did I learn this year?  And where do I want to go next year?

1.  Do your research

We made some updates and repairs to our camper that charted unknown waters.  As scary as these tasks were at times, we made both good and bad decisions.  Our roof repair is a big example of slow and diligent research paying off.

At the same time, do not clean your pop up camper canvas with bleach!  A fragile canvas will just be pushed past the point of no return.  I learned this the hard way.  Research is your friend.

Our canvas is being replaced at the beginning of 2018.  We can't wait!

2.  Ask Questions

Find a camping group you like and ask questions to your heart's content.  I belong to a couple of camping groups on Facebook that I like.  RVFTA (RV Family Travel Atlas) has a Facebook group that has become my favorite.  They don't allow with "cranksters", so it is a great place to field questions and seek knowledge.

I belong to another group of pop up campers.  It can be less friendly.  A good group of campers can be an excellent resource.  Also, follow other campers on social media and ask questions there too.  Connecting with other campers is the best way to learn more about a hobby that you love.  You may not know anyone in your day to day life that camps, but there are so many other campers in the camping world that will be more than happy to help you!

Our camping friends are great resources and helpers on each of our trips that we take with them!

3.  Camping doesn't have to be far from home

There are lots of campgrounds that may be within 2 or 3 hours of your home.  Select places that are nearby for a quick weekend getaway.  Sure, those bucket list place that can be clear across the country can be dreamy.  But, don't hold out for only the grand camping escape.  Camp close to home and you may go more often!  We are planning to do more nearby camping in 2018.  I think that this will encourage us to camp more even if it is just for one night.

For me, the whole point of camping is to disconnect.  I can do that and be happy no matter where we are.  Our first camping trip last year was simple and uneventful.  The peaceful quiet of that campground is something I long for now.

4.  Enjoy camping with what you have 

It is true that we have a tiny camper.  I love Peggy Sue, and I don't really want anything else.  Camping should be fun - not a burden.  Taking on a big camper payment may take all of the enjoyment out of camping for you and your family.  We paid cash for our camper and the work that we have done to her.  I didn't want a payment, and I enjoy camping so much more because of it.  We don't have a fancy camper, but she works great for our family.  We enjoy every trip.  Sure, it is fun to see all of the other setups at the campground, but it doesn't make me want anything other than Peggy Sue.

Our little Peggy Sue in the shadow of a large park model.

Peggy Sue suits us just fine. 

5.  Enjoy the work

Camping is work.  Enjoy it.  Enjoy the setup and take down.  Enjoy that you are taking the time to spend time in nature with your friends and family.  Enjoy that what you are doing has purpose and meaning.  And at the end of the day, sit around your campfire and reflect on what you loved most about that day.  On our last camping trip, I spent time with my family and friends.  I met new people.  I took a walk with a lady I had just met.  I learned new things and had new experiences.  I don't look at the work as a drudge or job.  The work in camping helps me to achieve the end goal to take a pause from a much too busy life that I live.

Early morning breakfast

Warm biscuits fresh from our dutch oven.

Camping is purposeful, intentional and joyful to me.  It brings out my creativity and allows me to pause in spite of the work.  Sure, it's a working pause.  But, it's a pause that allows me to focus only on the task at hand.  I'm not multi-tasking and trying to check off a list.  No matter what I'm doing at the campsite, it is the best life.

Fun napkins that I found this year!

I know that camping isn't for everyone.  I saw napkins this last year that said, "I love not camping."  Okay.  I get it.  Not everyone wants to camp.  That just means more space for me to spread out and enjoy the good life.   I can't wait for the 2018 camping season.  We are already planning trips with friends and family in the new year.  I am excited about where this journey will take me.  Camping truly is the best medicine.  It soothes the soul and refreshes my spirit.

What did you learn while camping this past year?  Take a moment to reflect on the roads you have traveled.  Let it guide you into a new year.