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