Buck up, camper.

No one actually SAID that to me last weekend, but they could have and probably should have. We were reminded during this year’s annual camping trip how powerfully the weather influences our experience. The first 24 hours were wet and cold. I was having a hard time keeping a positive attitude. I had hand-warmers inside my clothes and at one point I went to our van and turned it on just to use the seat warmer for a few minutes. I know that some non-campers out there will say in complete unbelief: THEN WHY DO YOU DO IT?!?! I asked myself the same question as I was laying inside a tent at 8pm, freezing, with 2 kids who didn’t want to go to bed because it was still light outisde, but we could BE outside because it was raining! But, I came up with a few answers.
Because it’s what our family does! Since I was a little girl. And anticipating it is half the fun. We pack up for days and get special treats for the drive.
Because I bought this hat for Sydney before she was even born and I love that she’s wearing it now.
Because our kids and cousins get to be together and play and attitudes change and suddenly having goldfish in a plastic cup seems about the best snack EVER!

Because it’s super special to this grandpa…

…and this grandma.

Because instead of playing Star Wars on the Wii, these boys are pretending Star Wars in the woods with their “light sabers” given by Nina.

Princess Leia?

Because when it’s wet and cold, kids get to play in their camping pj’s and boots until noon. And we still find places for the kids to sit and play–here they are getting ready to receive their bug kits.

Because they play for hours, getting dirty & wet, without a televsion or video game in sight.

If there are no bugs, they can collect moss.

Because even if the littlest ones won’t remember this…

WE will remember and tell them “You’ve been going on this camping trip since you were BORN, so put your cell phone down and GET IN THE CAR!”

Because these two predestined best friends finally started noticing each other and playing together without prodding.

Because usually the sun does come out and Jojo presents her annual treasure hunt.

And everyone can enjoy the spoils!

So even after a rough year, I know I’ll be back next summer and the summer after that and the summer after that….it’s TRADITION!


  1. Rain and cooler weather did not stop the joy !! I am so thankful to be there all these years and watch more blessings unfold. With 8 little kiddos I’m dreaming about when Peanut will add even more joy(: Everyone has a part !! No matter what it’s perfect and we all leave with a boat load of memories .

  2. Well said, Jen. I think you know that I was in that grumpy boat with you for awhile at first… 🙂 It wasn’t as relaxing or WARM or dry as years past but the one thing I took away with me was the knowledge that Henry had the TIME.OF.HIS.LIFE. He cannot wait to go again. And I know Wyatt will get there, too. To know his joy is all that I needed. And, if I’m honest, it’s always a little fun to be able to commiserate with your besties when you’ve all got cold bums by the campfire!

  3. Jen, this is something I truly admire about you and your friends. I can only imagine how much work goes into pulling this off every year, but what awesome memories! We’re taking the kids for their first camping trip later this summer and boy could I use a post from you on camping tips with little ones! (You’ve got a few weeks to write this.:))

  4. Great post Jen… You guys are all my heros for all the work I can only imagine goes into camping with kids! I had to laugh at your picture of the kids in your minivan.. and wondered to myself, where is the third one going to fit?! Perhaps a Thule is in order in the near future?!!! (; Love you guys.

    p.s good job capturing some great pictures of all the kids.

  5. Camping with kids is a blast! I love to watch them get dirty and so tired they just fall asleep as soon as their heads hit the pillows. But I will admit, since we are in a trailer and have a generator, the kids will head in once a day or so and watch a movie. This last trip they watched a movie in one trailer while we grown ups watched Ricky Bobby in another. Good times!

  6. I like that its so cold there you have to bundle up in the summer. I think I should probably live there.
    Also, I did not grow up camping but I wish I knew how to take a baby camping. I guess pretty soon he’s not going to be a baby and then I won’t have any excuses. 🙂 I’m glad you share this stuff. Life isn’t always perfect and it is great to see the positive in everything!

  7. Oh my goodness – that picture of the babies in the playpen was so adorable.
    Um….I think I’m going to go ahead and invite myself on your next friends camping trip. yeah, never mind I don’t know them and they don’t know me, but it looks like a romper room basket of fun and well, I just want to partcipate. Where did you go?

    And on a side note, would you mind calling or emailing me and then hanging out with me sometime soon? I need a Jen fix.

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