Talking About Parenting: Camping is a learning experience for all ages

Published 10:53 am Thursday, January 24, 2019

By Chris Kovatch


In an effort to spend more time with my kids and get them to spend a bit more time outside we began taking camping trips about two years ago.

We would visit parks in our general area and tent camp there for a night or two.

As the kids have gotten bigger, the tent has gotten smaller. The kids still want to camp so I decided to take the leap and look for some sort of camper.

Anyone who knows me is well aware that my backing up trailer skills are severely lacking. I decided it needed to be small and easily manageable. As fate would have it, a pop-up camper was posted on Facebook Market Place. I quickly scheduled a visit to look at it. Within a few days, I was the proud owner of a Jayco pop-up camper.

I decided a test run would be the best way to jump-start its use. I wracked my brain for what supplies we would need to stock the camper. Thayer and I made lists and made no less than three trips to the store to acquire the necessities.

As the kids’ excitement was building I began to watch the temperatures getting lower and lower on the forecast. I decided that an extra heater wouldn’t hurt.

Sunday morning we pulled out of the driveway at my goal time of 10 a.m. and began to head towards Martin Dies State Park in Jasper.

Quickly, I was diverted to the store as Summer informed me her tennis shoes were too small and she was in desperate need of bigger ones. A quick stop later we were back on the road.

We pulled into the park after the brief drive and found that the park ranger was out to lunch. Just my luck! We had a picnic lunch by the water in the chilly breeze and quickly returned to the park headquarters after the hour was up.

After being assigned a campsite, we hastily made our way to it and began our maiden setup of the camper.

Let’s just say some parts went smoothly and some parts weren’t quite as fun.

I intended to teach Jackson a few things about the setup, but being my child and a teenager, he knew it all already. We tend to have our biggest issues when the passing on of knowledge is involved. The only major issue with the setup was with getting the electricity to work in the camper. A quick phone call to the previous owner for some advice and we were back in business.

As dinner time approached, we began trying to start a fire to roast hot dogs. The wood that the park had for sale was obviously a bit ‘green’ and didn’t burn. This made for an interesting dilemma on how to prepare dinner. We improvised and dinner was saved.

After dinner, we began to prep for bed.

The temperature was hovering slightly above freezing and I was silently hoping that we wouldn’t freeze to death. Much to my surprise we had a pretty warm night’s sleep. We work up intending to go hiking but it was still way too cold, so we decided to head home.

What did I learn from our first trip? A number of things.

No matter how excited you are about the trip, remember the temperature should be respected. Bring your own firewood.

I also realized that all my planning and preparing doesn’t mean much to the kids. They live in the moment and had a blast while we were out there. I need to remember to let loose of my lists and to do items and just enjoy the moment more often.