The end of the school year is upon us and now the inevitable question is: “What are we going to do ALL summer long?” or the infamous: “I’m bored,” yes it is summer break! Parents are frantically searching for camps, activities, play dates, swimming lessons, movie days, etc. to fill their kid’s days to avoid the “I’m bored” trap.
As I’m sure you’ve noticed from previous articles, I am an avid outdoors person and I like adventures of all kinds. So, it only makes sense that one of my all-time favorite summer activities is to go camping. I’m not talking about a fancy RV with a satellite dish, running water, indoor bathroom and a bed; I am a tent and sleeping bag gal.
I started camping when I was in college, in fact my tent, sleeping bag and cooler were always in my trunk, in case my friends and I wanted to head out camping spur of the moment all I needed to grab were my clothes. I started camping with friends in college because it was cheap and a way to get out of our small, cramped apartment. My camping skills have improved since college. I have taken canoeing/camping trips in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area in Northern Minnesota, I have camped all over Minnesota and Arizona. I am a traditionalist; I don’t own a camping stove, I think there is nothing better than cooking over a campfire and meals in my campsite are more than just hot dogs. I have learned many “tricks of the trade” so to speak and am anxious to teach our boys all of them.
Since our boys were born, I have wanted to take them camping. We started camping around Arizona a couple of years ago and it has been a blast. They each have jobs when we arrive at our camp spot, first we set up the tent and get settled. Then it is off to the woods to find kindling for our campfire, we search for sticks of all sizes to burn at night and for cooking. Once we have stacked the wood, it is time to check out our surroundings, nothing worse than trying to find the “outhouse” when it is dark! Then we go back to the campsite, play Frisbee, cards, games, or go on a hike. Late afternoon, we start building the campfire to cook dinner. After dinner, we wash dishes, take a quick flashlight walk to check out the stars, and then head back to the tent for books and sleep. While we camp, we don’t worry about what time of day it is, we get up when the sun is up, and we go to bed when it is dark. Also, cell phones and other electronic devices are off limits.
Here are my top five reasons for introducing your kids to camping:
1. Fresh air.
2. Beautiful scenery.
3. Great hiking trails.
4. Seeing a sky full of stars.
5. Time hanging out with the kids.
Now that the temperature has hit 100-plus degrees, I will be getting my tent aired out in the backyard. The boys will be getting their fishing gear ready and they will be asking when and where we will be going camping this year. Who knows what direction the wind will take us, but I’m sure there will be at least one new camping adventure in store for us this summer.
Do you camp? Send me a message and let me know what your favorite camping activity is and your favorite spot to camp in Arizona, I would love to hear all about your family adventures.
• Leah Derewicz is a 15-year Ahwatukee Foothills resident. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.