This week we have a special guest post by our friend, Meeghan. Meeghan grew up being a camper; something I did not. Today, she shares her childhood memories as well as her camping hopes for her own children.
Growing up, camping is what my family always did for vacation. We camped at many of the state parks in Nebraska. Camping seemed to be the most affordable thing for our family of 6 six. I credit my mom for always making these camping trips fun and of course memorable. We always had good meals and dessert; we always rode our bikes or skateboards all over the place, went on hikes, swam at the pool and if available went horseback riding. Camping was one of my most favorite things to do as a child and is still to this day.
As a very young child we always camped in a big green tent (see picture above from Louisville State Park Louisville, NE near Omaha). The tent was an old Boy Scout tent that my dad received from a friend. The tent was quite complicated to put together. I remember my dad cursing the entire time because it never seemed easy to find which pole went with which. But when he finally accomplished this task I vividly remember standing in the middle of the tent and feeling it was so HUGE! I remembered the plastic tarp that covered the ground was so loud to walk across – nothing quiet about it. I remember the big metal zippers that this tent had – weird thing to remember, huh, but many of you may remember the old camping tents and pop-up campers had these types of metal zippers. Do any of you remember these kind of zippers? My older brother, Colin, remembers camping during a rainstorm and water rushing through the bottom of the tent – obviously this tent was not up to waterproof standards of tents today!
We eventually graduated to a popup! (See picture above – Two Rivers State Park in Waterloo, NE also near Omaha). I loved this camper! Some of my fondest memories are camping in this popup! My dad paid next to nothing for the popup and traveled out of state to get it.
There was no electricity – we always used the faithful old Coleman lantern for light at night. I can still recall getting ready for bed in this old camper by that light. The only hook up was water. Everything else was manual – you had to crank the handle by the hitch to raise the tent part and then you slid the beds out. I used to be so excited to take my turn at cracking the handle. There was an old ice chest that you had to use a block of ice to keep the food cold – normally we just used coolers to keep our food. The camper came fully stocked with bowls, plates, and silverware – I mean real silver! I now have all the silverware in my camper and use it regularly!
The one table in the camper was always pulled down for a bed. If I remember correctly, my older brother always got to sleep on the table bed and he never had to share with anyone else. It’s lucky to be the oldest! The rest of the family bunked-up on either of the side beds – mom and dad on one side and my little sister, little brother and I bunked on the other.
All our meals were eaten outside on the sites picnic table and/or foldable table we carried around with us. I don’t remember eating extravagant meals for breakfast – always cereal. Although, for dinner my mom always did something fun. Many times mom cooked over the fire in a pie iron. And for dessert we made tin can ice cream.
Tin can ice cream was always a must whenever we camped and you automatically made friends with other campers while making it. The photo above is my sister and a family friend rolling the can back and forth to mix the ice cream. Inside the big can is a smaller can with all the ice cream ingredients. Surrounding the smaller can is ice and rock salt. As you the roll the back and forth the cans get colder and colder with the motion and the ice cream is made. This whole process takes about 30 minutes – with the making and the rolling included. It’s one of my fondest memories camping.
I’m not exactly sure when we stopped camping. The popup was eventually no longer able to be camped in and purchased by a man who made it into a trailer. It was sad to see it go but the memories will forever remain.
When I met my husband we always camped in a tent on air mattresses. We did this for a few years including some wonderfully fun trips with Pam and her family!
(Smith Fork Campground Smithville, MO)
We started building our family and once we had children we never made it back to roughing it in a tent. In 2012 we purchased a travel trailer, a 34 foot 2007 Summerland with one slide. It has bunks for the kids and queen bed for us. It has been the best thing ever! My children love it! It’s the perfect size. As I am writing this I realize my children have really never slept in a tent. Shocking I know! I’m not sure if this makes us officially bad parents but we have been able to provide them with some wonderful camping with good meals and campfires
My husband’s family has a family campground near White Cloud, KS right on the Mighty Missouri River. This is the only place our camper has ever been and the only place our children have ever camped.
Nine other campers sit on the property all family. Our campground has full hookups. We leave our camper there all summer and we go up on the weekends from April to October. The campground has a boat ramp and a dock for all of the family fishermen.
We also have a building that we call a cook shack which all of our meals are cooked in. You haven’t had a breakfast until you’ve eaten breakfast at a the river. We also cook our dinner meals in the cook shack where we have anything from fish to steaks to fried chicken. Lots of laughter has taken place in the cook shack. Great memories have been made here.
To us our family campground isn’t like any other campground around. The memories we have made as a family and that our children have made will never be forgotten. Our children and their cousins have the best time in the world each and every weekend. Without the camper I’m not sure they would be as close as they are.
We worry as our children grow and become more active in sports that our time at the river will be less and less. As we see this happens our hearts begin to hurt a bit. We know there will also come a time when our children are “too cool” for the river. This too will be a hard day for us. But before this happens there plenty of camping trips that I would like to take! I’m ecstatic to have the river and I know each and every time we’re there is a great time; but I very much want to take our camper other places! I want my children to experience setting up our camping site and making friends with other children who are camping too and to ride their bikes throughout the campground. We definitely have many luxuries at the river and I want my children to see what camping can really be. Our next big family vacation will be taking the camper somewhere. Not sure where because there are just so many place we would like to roam. I can hardly wait!