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Family Camping Requires Flexibility

November 11, 2010 by · 4 Comments 


There are so many things to write about in regards to family camping, but today I’d like to talk about the family camping mindset. Is there a family camping mindset? I think so and without a doubt I think the key to that mindset is flexibility. This might seem like a weird recommendation and an odd topic, but a flexible mindset is something that is important to retain when camping with kids. Have you ever noticed that what works one summer doesn’t necessarily work as well the next summer?

I’ve been camping for more than twelve years now. My style has varied considerably over the years. What worked when my children were toddlers doesn’t necessarily work now. Seven years ago, my children would have been happy playing in the sand on the beach while I sat on a log nearby. Now, my children are more adventurous. Hence, they’ve ditched the sand buckets and are heading towards surf boards and adventure trails. They like museums and love kayaks. This, of course, is a good thing, but it definitely impacts where we stay and what we do.

For example, when we visited Yellowstone National Park this summer, I booked our reservations on fairly short notice in March. I managed to get three nights at a campsite in the Madison Campground, which is right in the national park and immediately adjacent to the Madison River. I was lucky to get anything at that point. The location was great for the boys, but the accommodations weren’t so great for my teenage daughter. The campground has no hookups. To make things slightly more difficult, there aren’t even showers in the campground. This, of course, didn’t please my daughter in the least. The boys,  on the other hand, were elated because there was  a fabulous river and little beach right nearby.  Wildlife loomed all around us. We were in bear country again.

When I booked the site over the phone in March, I knew that we would be “roughing it” in the campground even though we were in our travel trailer. After our three nights at Madison, we decided to change our itinerary entirely and stay a few more days in the West Yellowstone area. Hence, I booked a couple nights at the West Yellowstone KOA. Located outside the park, this lovely KOA offers amenities, such as full hookups, a laundry room, a pool, a hot tub, a playground, a store, and Wifi. The hot showers were, of course, a luxury at that point. The pool and bike rentals were nice diversions.

We hadn’t stayed at a KOA in ages, but this KOA was a wonderful reminder that it is important to be flexible in where we stay and how we balance our itinerary. Both places are great. Both places are different. I have learned that it is worth being flexible in where we stay and how long we stay there. If the itinerary looks like it might not work, then we change it. Family camping is a balancing act, don’t you think?


4 Responses to “Family Camping Requires Flexibility”
  1. Gene S. says:

    Flexibility is a good thing even with adult children. For my baby (24), his fiance and me, I had the perfect whirlwind itinerary in August–the Corn Palace, Chamberlain overlook, Badlands, Wall Drugs, Rushmore, Custer, Cheyenne, Rocky Mountain NP and Denver…all in five days. We made it from Kansas City to Mitchell right on schedule. I realized late next morning however, that my schedule wasn’t going to pan out. My son’s fiance had never been “out west” before. Plus she was in possession of my daughter’s 26x zoom Nikon. Every stopping point in Badlands became a major photo op (at the cost of MY schedule!).

    After a while I took a deep breath, figured out the campground arrangements in the Badlands, and set up for a glorious afternoon. Got to see Badlands by late morning light, midday light, late afternoon, a side trip that included prairie dogs and bison. Went to Wall Drug that evening and returned back to the campsite under a full moon. In the Badlands!! Woke up next morning to see the sunrise IN THE BADLANDS! Way better than anything I had on MY schedule! Rocky Mountain NP will still be there next year.

  2. butterbean carpenter says:

    Howdy Melissa,
    Another 5***** star performance !!! The kids keep getting older and more diverse and soon they are
    in their midlife and just want to sit and snore, while we(the old ones) get out and wander the trails…
    But they’ll catch us pretty soon and then life is fantastic..we all sit down and enjoy each other..

  3. Gene, A Great story with a happy ending! Thank you for taking the time to share it with us!
    Butterbean Carpenter, Thanks for the comments…a snore sounds pretty good right now. It was a busy day around here!
    Regards, Melissa


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