Last weekend, my two younger kids and I spent an amazing weekend camping in… our neighborhood park.
It wasn’t an exotic destination, but it was fun. I live in the Piney Woods region of Texas, so we are blessed to live in a place that is scenic though flat.
The local parks department organizes this family campout twice a year. In fact, the first time we ever went camping was at this camp. Backyard campouts are great because if things don’t go well, you can always go back inside the house. Organized local camps, like the one we attended are great because they took care of providing food and planned all the activities. My youngest wanted to do it, so we signed up again. For me, it was a fun weekend without worrying about planning anything.
If you are interested in this type of program, reach out to the local or state parks department. We also participated in one with the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. It’s a great program. In that one, they let you borrow all the gear and equipment and you bring your bedding and food. The program is geared for first time or still pretty novice campers. The rangers will help you set up the tent, teach you how to use a camp stove, etc.
At our campout, the kids got to make crafts, built a cardboard toboggan to race down a hill, went on a scavenger hunt, watched movies on the lawn, and made s’mores. Typical camp stuff. The activities were simple, but being outdoors in the nice weather made it pleasurable.
Some families come with friends and participate every year. Some families took this opportunity to try camping for the first time.
I had a friend once make fun of the campout, because it wasn’t really camping. But I don’t think there is one particular way an outdoor adventure should be. My family and I camp a lot but I’m sure people who camp in the backcountry might think we’re not really camping. There are people I know that backpack. There are people I know that backpack and sleep without a tent!
These educational programs should wet your toes and give you the confidence that you can camp. Everyone can, but it can be intimidating. Once you gain the confidence you can work up to a far away trip. For some, camping with always mean car camping at a campsite or even in an RV or camper. That is real camping!
Camping takes us away from our routine. It brings us closer to the outdoors. It makes us slow down and get back to basics. It gives us connection to the land. Anyone can camp.