It’s Never Too Late to Learn to Camp

Kids and adults around a large campfire

The kids loved telling scary stories around the campfire at our family reunion last month.

Have you noticed how different people have such various reactions to the adventure of camping? Some people crinkle their noses and avoid this “camping” at all costs. Others I talk to are interested, and can innately relate to some of these rustic experiences.

Even though camping is one of my favorite activities now, growing up, my family never camped. My mother would always say, “My idea of camping is a hotel without room service.” Ha! My first time camping was when I was in my early 20s and it was one of the more lavish experiences where we went “up north” (Has anyone ever noticed that this term is such a Michigan thing to say?) to Rose City where my fiancé’s family has property. We stayed in the family cabin where there was a shower, soft bed, electricity and even a TV. This was a nice soft introduction to camping!

From there, my fiancé and I have camped all around Michigan and even got engaged while on a camping trip in Florida. During the summer with the great weather and flexible schedules, we try to make “mini vacations” where we pull out the tent and sleeping bags, and have a campfire in the backyard just to break up our daily routine. My son Grayson, who’s 2, has grown up camping and loves spending time around the campfire with family and friends (even though I secretly think it’s mostly for the s’mores).

What I enjoy most about camping is how it brings everyone together. You wouldn’t think that changing your sleeping arrangement from a bed to a blow-up mattress would make that much of a difference, but it’s more about unplugging and really focusing on the people around you. Turning off the cell phones, skipping the Mickey Mouse rerun, and just being around my fiancé and son gets rid of the buzz of everyday life. I always notice when we go camping (whether in Florida or in the backyard) that things get so quiet. Like really quiet. It’s enough to stop and make me think about how grateful I am for the things in my life; this is especially easy when standing around a campfire making s’mores and roasting hot dogs (organic turkey, of course).

Camping can be a lot of prep work with making sure you have all the things you might possibly need while out in the wilderness, but it’s so worth it when you think about the lifelong memories that you’re making. My son will forever have memories of playing Red Rover with cousins, telling scary stories around the campfire, and the s’mores bar we usually have at any bonfire!

– Stephanie Paetzke, LLMSW, CPST, is the Grosse Pointe Coordinator with the Beaumont Parenting Program.

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