Growing up, I was not raised a camper. I can remember going camping exactly 1 time as a child. I was maybe 6 to 8 years old. My family went to Dinosaur Valley State Park in Glen Rose, TX... in the middle of the summer... when it's about 100 degrees in Texas. Being a young child and not needing water or shade, I played with my sisters until I suffered a heat stroke. As you can imagine, this pretty much put a damper on the whole trip, and any future trips as well. Beyond that, most of my time spent outdoors as a child was running from soccer game to soccer game or playing a round of golf with my Dad and/or Grandfather or possibly spending a weekend on the boat.
My wife's family, on the other hand, spent about every weekend camping and traveling around the country. She and her siblings, for the most part, all had an appreciation for the outdoors. They all had stories of places they had been and of the old truck camper they had growing up. My wife had the knowledge and experience of telling fireside stories, making s'mores and foil dinners. I had none.
About 6 or so years after we were married, we had 2 children, a boy who was 2 and a girl who was 6 months. My wife thought it would be great if we started camping as a family. I was all up for it. We went to Wal-Mart, found us the biggest cabin tent we could find and decided to give it a try. We chose a campsite really close to home, which I highly recommend as you get your feet wet.
Camping close to home proved to be a good choice, as we inevitably forgot critical items, such as charcoal, food, and a few other necessities. My son took right to it. He really enjoyed the tent, running around outside, fishing, throwing rocks and all the other things a young boy does outside. As usual, he had no problems falling asleep, which is often difficult for people on their first time sleeping outside. My daughter (all 6 months of her), on the other hand, was having fun as well, albeit at 2, 3, 4 and 5 in the morning. We tried everything to get her to go to sleep, but she was having none of it. She was going to enjoy the outdoors to the fullest. Finally, we allowed her to just play in the corner with the wet wipes container, where she laughed and giggled until morning. It was at that moment that my wife insisted we get a camper.
Since that time, we have moved from the giant tent into smaller, more portable tents, and even purchased that pop-up tent trailer. We have camped over a hundred times, at least. We have gotten much better about packing. We have doubled the number of children to 4 (ages 12, 10, 6 and almost 4), and have accumulated multitudes of gear. Most importantly, we are all hooked on the outdoors and enjoying hiking, biking, and camping together as a family. With the daily run of school, work, athletics and other extra-curricular activities, camping is a great way to get away and spend quality time together at a slower pace. We try and get out as a family at least once a month during the warmer months.
Over the coming days, weeks and months, I will be posting some of my tips, tricks, gear lists, pictures, places to go, etc. I have invited a few friends and family to do the same. I look forward to seeing you outdoors sometime.