A few years ago we purchased our first camper, a pop up, or tent trailer. Up until then, I had always been a tent guy, sneering at the folks who had trailers. “That’s not real camping!”, I’d declare with infinite superiority. But somewhere deep down inside, I think a part of me was saying, “Man! That looks great! I’d love to have a solid roof/bed off the ground/cabinets for storage/beer fridge/insert benefit here!”
After we had children, we bought a big, six person tent so we could continue our love of the great outdoors with children. After all, camping really is one of those great family bonding activities. You are with your kids 24/7, just hanging out, or hiking, or going to the beach, or any of a couple dozen activities that you probably don’t do when you’re at home. The thing about it was… well, I’m older. I’m not as flexible as I was in my 20’s and 30’s. Getting in and out of a tent on your hands and knees, getting dressed while sitting on your butt inside a warm sleeping bag just doesn’t hold the same romantic charm as it once did. Heather is in much better shape than I, and will probably be the limber, fit, workout queen she is until we’re both doddering old fools. So it’s really no biggie for her to be crawling around on all fours and tending to all the camping chores squatting on her impressively fit haunches.
We started shopping around for tent trailers. I figured this was an appropriate compromise for wanting to move to camping off the ground; not a full-fledged trailer with solid floors, walls and roof, and queen-sized beds, and a satellite TV, but a nice, cozy, raised shelter with lots of room for your clothing and sundries…and a beer fridge. I looked at a lot of trailers on-line, and I learned quite a few things about tent trailers. If they are in good shape, they really don’t lose their value. And if they are in need of TLC, they need a lot of it! There were some pretty beat up units out there, and most of those were not worth the price people were asking for.
We eventually found ours close to home, right here in town, in nice shape, and for a reasonable price. It has room for five so we can camp with our international students, lots of storage, an ice box/cooler, and it’s dry! I took it out for a test drive with the kids on Father’s Day, while Heather stayed home and worked on report cards. It performed wonderfully, and met most of my expectations. The kids explored every nook and cranny, turning it into a game of hide and seek when they found out they could get in and out by using the front storage compartment as a small kid size door.
Since that first trip we have been up and down Vancouver Island, the Okanagan Valley and the Kootenays in the BC Interior. Our summer vacation is camping. It’s relatively cheap, we get to explore the amazing geographic diversity of this province, and we can enjoy each others company while sitting under the stars, roasting marshmallows over our provincially regulated propane fire pit. No wood fires allowed for most of the summer here, don’t you know?
Heather likes to refer to our camping style as “glamping”, but if what we do is glamping, whaddya call those 40′ rolling hotel/spa motor-homes complete with satellite dish and porta-hot tub?! Whatever you call it, camping with our tent trailer has helped our children develop a love of the activity. It’s so much easier to enjoy camping when you don’t have to bail out your tent during an unexpected downpour. Both Zachary and Beth-Rose get very excited as we approach the first camping weekend. Even though it involves a bit of road-tripping to get there, the kids don’t seem to mind.
This summer we’re planning an Island camping vacation. There are so many fantastic campgrounds on Vancouver Island, it makes it a challenge to decide where to go. We tend to prefer the Provincial Parks for our trips. The campsites are usually very private, with lots of space between campers. We don’t require water or electrical hookups so why pay for it when you don’t need it? I am not a fan of side by side camping. I don’t really want to become intimately aware of my neighbor’s digestive conditions, or be a party to their private conversations about their annoying sister-in-law. So we tend to favor the Provincial sites. I’m sure there are also some great private campgrounds, we just haven’t really found them. I guess we haven’t really looked either.
Although it isn’t quite March yet, and we’re still a couple of months away from our first camping weekend, I have camping on my mind. (Obviously, since I’m about 800 words into this post!) Getting out into nature with my family is something I try not to take for granted. Sometimes when the rain is beating against the windows, it’s the last thing I want to do, but when the sun pops back out, my thoughts wander to that trailer sitting in the drive. Camping with Heather and Zachary and Beth-Rose is a re-connect; a reminder of how much we have together. Those shared experiences of making s’mores by the fire, kicking a soccer ball in front of our site, walking back from the beach under the stars, and lazily floating down the Kettle River, all contribute to creating a rich tapestry of memories for our family. And when we talk about them on a cold, blustery winter day, it sets them firmly in our minds, and binds us as family. We truly are “Glamping”!
If you enjoyed this article, I’d love to hear from you. And if you have some great family friendly camping spots you’d like to share, please do so in the “comments” section below.