Exploring the Outdoors

We didn’t set out to be campers. In fact, after a crazy remote Colorado experience, my husband knows sleeping in a tent isn’t an option for our family—mostly me. We enjoy city dwelling and artisan coffee and spend much of our weekends watching our kids thrive in their activities. Even though we like our comforts, we don’t want them to stand in the way of pursuing adventure.   

Early in our relationship, we committed to exploring. We traveled the U.S. as well as our favorite place of all time: New Zealand. Then, jobs and houses and lawns and kids and moving and just being plain tired slowed our expeditions. After settling into family life, our longing for adventure rekindled. The appeal for spontaneous quality family time without the need for flight tickets was inescapable.

Thus, our latest family addition: a 1968 Avion. It’s our current answer to adventure and exploration. It gets us out of the suburbs—back into beauty and nature without having to plan an elaborate trip. We drop screen time and pick up board games. We take early morning nature walks, and the kids’ imaginations run wild with sticks, flowers and caterpillars. Exploring a different patch of grass than our front yard renews discovery.

Camping also fuels our desire for simplicity. We believe disconnecting from life’s stressors is not only fun, it’s also critical. Our lives are filled to the brim with amazing opportunities. Sifting through and aligning them to our family’s vision takes effort—effort that comes in the form of being away from the laundry, work calls and meal planning long enough to behold and pursue the true essence of our kids. There’s quiet refuge in being outside and only having the essentials at our fingertips.

Another perk of fumbling over each other for days in 200 square feet of space is relational bonding. Together we spend longer hours playing, reading, sitting by the fire—these moments solidify our family bond. For us, healthy connection means gaining the ability to invest in our kids’ hearts. Not only are we required to help each other, but we also find ourselves helping and relating to other campers. On a quick weekend getaway last summer, our daughter made such fast friends with another girl they were calling each other “sis” within hours of meeting. So, in these camping moments, we hope to place small seeds which will lead them to a lifetime of looking beyond themselves.

We quickly found it’s less about the destination as it is about being together. Our kids are just as happy spending a weekend at Lake Jacomo or Longview as they are heading out of town. So, our summers consist of half-a-dozen mini-retreats and one longer excursion. Last year it was eight days in Colorado. This year, we’re doubling that (a la Clark Griswald) to Mount Rushmore and Badlands National Park in South Dakota and Yellowstone National Park and Jackson Hole in Wyoming. (What are we thinking?) As much as we love our local coffee shops, we can’t wait to grind our own beans on a brisk morning before heading out to see Old Faithful.