By Jen Parrish, Working Mother and Outdoor Enthusiast
My husband is a lover of all things outdoors. Having grown up in the mountains, a perfect day for him is spending the entire day hiking, fishing, stopping to admire nature along the way, etc. etc. Imagine the happiness invoked by the Von Trapp family spinning their way across the top of mountains to the “Hills Are Alive with the Sound of Music”. What he really gets is his adorable children (whining, griping, complaining) hiking about 5 minutes and then “Daddy, I’m hot.” “Daddy, there are NO fish in this lake.” “Daddy, can we go home now?”
After several experiences like this, he still thinks the perfect family outing is in the woods. Now, some of you may be saying, “Darn right! I agree!” . Well, I do applaud you. I, however, would rather be spending my precious weekends at a 5 star hotel with a spa.
As I truly appreciate his desires to make some fun family memories with the kids, I bought him a mack daddy 6 person tent for Christmas, therefore securing my fate of actually having to go on an overnight camping trip with my family. If you saw how my 2 children sleep, you would understand why we need a 6 person tent for a family of 4. The look on his face when he opened it at Christmas was pure joy, so I was hoping it would make it all worth it.
Right after the holidays, we started planning our first camping trip. Much discussion took place about the perfect time to go. Didn’t want it to be too hot or too cold (this all coming from me) so a weekend in May was chosen and we called and made a reservation at the Honeybear Campground in Boone.
For those planners and list makers out there (aka, Type A Control Freaks), when a trip is around the corner, you start packing in your head at least a week before. My lists are made and checked twice. Bags are packed and everything goes in its place so that when we arrive I can tell you the exact location of someone’s lovie, favorite stuffed animal, sunglasses and Polly Pocket (and we all know how small she and her infinite plastic wear can be).
The best part about this trip was that I was leaving all the packing and planning to the hubs. I could just sit back, relax, hop in the car when it was time to go and enjoy. As Saturday approached, I started to panic. Did I just relinquish all control of the packing? As the bile and panic tried to force its way up my throat I squashed it down and forced myself to go with it. I even gained some degree of confidence in my dear husband as multiple trips were made to Wal-Mart to buy the camping necessities. I just hoped he remembered underwear for the kids!
Saturday morning arrived and we packed up the family truckster and started out. I could almost hear “Holiday Roooaddd” in the background as the Parrishes (Griswalds) started out on our family adventure. Within 10 minutes we heard the first, “Are we there yet?”, but we turned on the DVD player (thank God for technology) and made it to the campsite without incident.
Honeybear Campground is a great place. There is a cute building where you check-in that has a game room stocked full of card games, checkers, chessboards and board games in case it rains or the kids need a break from the great outdoors. There’s a pond stocked and ready for fishing. There is a very clean, very useable bath house with great showers and laundry facilities. And it’s all just outside of Boone where you can take advantage of hiking, fly fishing, horseback riding and skiing and ice skating in the winter.
All of these things would have been great for us to enjoy, but we slightly miscalculated the time it took to pack, drive there, setup the campsite and finally be able to start having fun. All we really had time for was some fishing and then dinner over the campfire, roasting marshmallows, making s’mores and then snuggling in the tent. We slept pretty well although I will say that I missed my sound machine and fan over my head, and I did my best to enjoy (ignore) those wonderful (annoying) sounds of nature (crickets, bugs hitting the tent and some mysterious dog barking somewhere).
As I mentioned that I am more of a hotel/spa kind of girl, I requested a campsite with electricity and water. That way we could still charge our cellphones (God forbid I not be able to post pictures of my adventures on Facebook!), wash our dishes at our site and brush our teeth without having to go all the way to bathhouse. For those of you experienced campers out there, go ahead and make fun of me, but this was my first foray and I had to ease into it!
Items to pack (this coming from a non-experienced camper – those of you that have camping husbands can ignore this):
- Sleeping bags
- Makings for s’mores
- Firestarter log (unless someone in your family was a boy scout and takes pleasure in a potential lengthy process of getting a fire started)
- Fishing gear
- Good hiking shoes
- Lots of wet wipes
- Bath caddy to carry bath items to the bathhouse
- Plastic plates/cutlery (easy to wash and saves the environment)
- Mason jar to catch fireflies
- Bug spray
- Trash bags
Happy camping, Smarties! I would love to hear from you so do share your family camping tips and campsite recommendations.