Reluctant Camper to Responsible Parent

campire-kidsI just spent the weekend in Fayetteville, NC with a dozen of my fellow Paratroopers, who served with me in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s. They had seen and several commented on how once they had vowed never to sleep on the ground again, once they had gotten out of the Army.

Interestingly, I too shared this attitude when I returned to civilian life. Understand that in the five years I served (some of my friends are still serving, which is amazing), we had been bitten by ants in the jungle, bitten by flies in the desert and bitten by the bitter cold in the Arctic. Five years of this could leave anyone a bit jaundiced to the idea of camping in the outdoors.

They say that time heals all, but I think in my case the motivation to get back into the outdoors was having kids. One of my buddies posited that maybe I just want to make my kids suffer like I had, but, in all seriousness, letting my kids experience the outdoors just seemed like one of those basic parental responsibilities that one has to do.


Of course, I’ve since learned that experiencing the outdoors with my children is nothing like enduring the outdoors with my Paratrooper buddies (sorry, guys!). The kids don’t like to get cold, but they don’t mind a little rain and they sure don’t mind getting dirty. Watching my kids have fun on a hike, or challenge themselves on a difficult rock face fills me with pride and makes me happy to be there with them.

Modern technology has alleviated many of the hardships associated with camping in the outdoors. We can now camp in tents, tent trailers, RVs, or cabins and be nearly as comfortable as we are in our own homes. No matter how you choose to experience the outdoors with your family, take solace in the fact that the memories you are creating are enduring ones that will influence your children when they become parents, themselves.

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14 thoughts on “Reluctant Camper to Responsible Parent

  1. Yes, enduring memories…but you probably don’t need to dress them in full Camo to get those memories… 😉

  2. Roy,

    I think you are so right about the necessity to get the kids outside. Thankfully my kids enjoy themselves once I get them away from their Xbox, TV, PSP, Gameboy, etc…


    • It’s funny when you talk to parents who think their kids can’t survive a weekend in the woods without there Gameboy. We have some friends like that.

  3. A humble thanks to all who served in any branch of military service. I did not. I have one sister who did, but she mostly lived in the air and still loves to camp and she passed that love on to her children. One of which attends an expedition High School because he loves the outdoors so much. Kids so need that outdoor exposure, to get dirty and wet and cold.

  4. We have a son and 2 nephews that totally agree that camping after being in the service sucks. We do all kinds of camping. We have the nice RV that we camp most of the summer in and then we plan special trips further north here in Upstate New York to go a few times a year. I love it all. I am very glad that I did raise my kids to appreciate the outdoors too. Even if I have one son now that prefers the RV. You are right though kids need to be exposed to the many wonders of the great outdoors. Happy camping.

    • I didn’t camp for years, after getting out of the Army. I wish I hadn’t waited, though, because it sure is nice to be able to actually relax and enjoy the outdoors (and not have to dig holes, shave with cold water, eat bad food, etc.).

  5. I agree that getting kids outside is a basic responsibility of parenthood. I LOVE playing outside, camping, skiing, hiking etc., but there are still days when I’d rather stay inside. On those days, my kids motivate me. Just knowing how important it is to get them out (nature deficit disorder, childhood obesity, ADHD and all those other things nature helps prevent) motivates me to get them out the door.

    • Our kids are the same way, Melynda. If we go a month without camping, they start hounding us!

  6. I don’t have the experience of being in the military, nor do I have kids, but I’m an avid camper/hiker/backpacker who wishes my parents had taken me camping when I was a child. In fact, I definitely didn’t get the outdoorsy gene from my parents. It came from going to summer camp and from being in the Outdoors Club in college. But I would have loved to have gone camping with my folks, and I always enjoy seeing families camping together. Most of the time, I see them having a good time, even when they don’t have the cushiest gear. To me, sleeping on the ground and dealing with the less-than-comfortable aspects of camping makes the comforts of home more satisfying. I like a balance of both.

    • Very true, Deb – I don’t know if it’s just in our genes, or what, but there is definitely something that draws many of us to the outdoor experience.

  7. The Army ruined Camping for me. We did not go out to the field for very many days. I was still not happy to sleep on the cold ground, get up before dawn to prepare for the enemy, sand in line to eat, and stay 10 m apart.

    Even when we stayed in tents, my kids were happy to be camping.

    Camping is easy for kids, they just show up with a toy. They don’t have any prep work. That is why they enjoy camping.