Not-So-Happy Camper

As far as trends go for 2020, I think our household has at least flirted with most. We’ve been gardening, baking sourdough bread, playing pickleball, instituting family game night, researching homeschool curriculums, and we’re still raising tadpoles (apparently, Little Jumpy is a late bloomer). Even as a proud #momofboys and longtime admirer of sunshine and creation, I’m hesitant to embrace one more rapidly growing trend: camping.

I’ve been camping two times. 

Both rank on Neena’s scale of “Worst Life Experiences.”

The first time was when I was in elementary school. My parents rented a camper, loaded up marshmallows and fishing poles, and we gave it a good go to enjoy the great outdoors at Greenbo Lake State Park. Imagine plague-like mosquitoes, getting stuck all night somewhere in the 181-acre lake without a working motor or oar, and my dad having to perform the Heimlich maneuver on the family dog because it had choked on a checker. Everyone survived, but I didn’t consider camping again until I was in my twenties.

It was no better. One pre-dinner “quick” trail hike turned into a four-hour desperate search for civilization and ride home with sympathetic State Trooper. I swore I’d never attempt such a dreadful adventure again.

But, everybody is different. According to the 2019 North American Camping Report, the number of campers has increased by 22 percent in the last five years, and that was before Coronavirus. Now, with the promise of family fun and more natural social distancing scenarios, even more people are rolling into state parks. 

Time changes things. Having children changes more things. And well, the third time is supposed to be a charm, right? In August, I’m going to try camping again… without checkers and with a firm resolve to stay on the trail. I’m welcoming all tips and tricks on how to make this a memorable family vacation (you know, the good kind of “memorable”). I’d love to be just another happy camper!

Are you a camper? Leave me your tips in the comments! 🙂

*Feature Photo by Lance Anderson on Unsplash

Author: Neena

Neena is a Kentucky wife, mother, and beekeeper. Her first novel, THE BIRD AND THE BEES, is a Christian contemporary romance available now. Visit her at

4 Replies to “Not-So-Happy Camper

  1. I am a hesitant camper myself. Years ago my husband convinced me to buy a tent. We tried it out for the first time on a trip to Cuter State Park South Dakota. I am not a lover of bugs, and I do enough cooking and dishes at home. When I am on vacation, I prefer to sample the local foods. The point of vacation to me is getting away from all the things we do at home and seeing/doing new things. We ate two meals a day out of the car/cooler then found something local for the other meal. As we set up the tent, I began to regret the decision to camp and began thinking of all the hotels we had passed on our way to the park. It was HOT. I was imagining a very sleepless night. By nighttime, the temperature dropped from 95 degrees and became quite cold. It was perfect sleeping weather. The stars were glorious and allowed us to see the milky way. The park also had wonderful bathhouses which were very clean with showers large enough to allow me to assist the kids (Parkman was only three) without getting myself wet. There were no problems with bugs because the wind blows constantly there. We had a blast! One night we were awakened by the cry of a mountain lion chasing an animal (by the sound of the hooves crossing the pavement maybe an elk or mule deer) through the campground. The kids loved it so much that we have been back on two other occasions. You may not consider what we do camping because we don’t haul water to wash dishes, or cook over a fire. Maybe it’s just sleeping outside. But we sure love it. If you go, be sure and give the Purple Pie Kitchen a try. We usually have pie and ice cream for supper there once each trip! On a side note, I never camp in the south in the summertime. The bugs and humidity are killers!

    1. Dana,
      I would love to see South Dakota!… just not the mountain lions. Terrifying! If camping works out this time, I may get brave and try something like this. No guarantees. 😉 Thanks for sharing!

  2. Our love for camping is two-fold: tent camping is about the most inexpensive vacation available and we do love the outdoors. We’ve gone less often in recent years when keeping multiple toddlers aware from the fire ring became tough to handle. The little ones aren’t so little now, and we’d hoped to camp this summer, but COVID shutdowns have altered our plans. It’s a great time for RV camping, but if you’re dependent on the public showers/restrooms, not so much.

    1. Hoping everyone gets an opportunity to get away soon! We have RV plans… but I could see some impromptu tent camping coming my way. Pray for me 😉

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