When friends, family and strangers hear about our camper and adventures with the kids, they often say things like, "Oh, I wish we could do something like that", "I've never been a big fan of the outdoors", "I've never been camping", "I wouldn't know how to start", etc. It makes me sad for them, but I get it. It also excites me to be able to share with them all the ways they CAN make it work and how easy it truly is to be off grid, travel and develop a love for the outdoors. I am living proof! Here are a few reasons why you CAN and SHOULD opt outside not just this summer, but in all seasons---yes, even our Minnesota winters!
1. It is easier than you may think!
Whether its a camper, rv, camper cabin or tent, all of these modes of shelter are very accomodating from the least camping experienced to the greatest. You don't have to buy a camper or rv, but you could rent. Online there are so many venues that rent out campers and RV's and you could even ask around to your friends. I'm willing to bet at least a handful of your friends have something on hand you could borrow! The same goes for a tent--borrow one, see how you like it and then decide if you'd like to invest. Now a days they make them so much less complicated, better insulated and easy to assemble. Tents are not for everyone--this is ok. We choose to not do a tent because we love the ease and storage of our camper. Everything is already right there and ready to go with minimal packing involved. It's like a second little home that goes with us anywhere we want. And camper cabins--these are great! For those that may love the outdoors, but are not so sure about tenting or even camper life, the camper cabins are for you! Often complete with bunk beds, tables, kitchenette, patio area and room for storage. It's a great place to start if you'd like to start to explore some state parks and the whole camping experience.
2. You can be a Weekend Warrior.
You don't have to devote a week or longer to travel and explore, but you can plan out a handful of weekends each year to go more places for shorter amounts of time. This is great for being able to quickly weed out the not so great sites from the ones you adore. So, if you feel like your schedule has been holding you back and you can't devote a handful of days to a trip, try somewhere local for the weekend. Try a state park near you or a family run campground. Even staying one night can be a fun adventure for the family--a staycation of sorts! On the flipside, if you have time and availability to lend to this hobby--do it now while you have the flexibility! Heck, go all out and try the RV life for a year---that's our, er...MY (Laura's) dream! How fun would that be?! Or, if you find you or your spouse works out of town a lot--join them and find a camping spot to check out--a little bit of work and play. So, whatever your schedule, the possibilities are endless!
3. Kids need the outdoors.
Here's where I could spout off some statistics and facts about research proving this point, but that's just too much Googling that I care for. As a parent, this is something that I can SEE first hand. I don't need to read the research---my kids ARE the research. And not just my own kids. I work at a school and I see a huge difference in the kids that I know are involved in outdoor activities and free play vs. those that are less social and spend hours on technology or screen time indoors (these things are fine in moderation--we've got a gamer in our house!). When my kids are outdoors I see their imaginations at work, I see their creativity bloom, I see them care less about wordly stressors in their lives and more mindful play, I see less behavior struggles and tantrums and I see that the things they enjoy outdoors lend them opportunities to be social with other kids which in turn helps foster their socials skills. Friends, little dirt never hurt! I tell you--dirt and mud and playing freely without worry or caution is an amazing feeling! Our kids should be experiencing this all the time (Adults should too!)! You can bathe the bodies and wash the clothes, but you can't upload experiences and adventures into them, they have to explore that on their own and sometimes it's a little messy, but I'm confident it is helping to build their character and their rolodex of happy memories.
4. It can be free and super affordable.
Getting outdoors doesn't have to cost an arm and a leg or even a fingernail! Here's just a FEW free or cheap ideas:
Go hiking on nearby trails--join a hiking club!
Take up Geocaching
Like Photography? Start taking nature pictures
Go fishing in a nearby lake--you can borrow materials if you need or rent from parks
Tend to your garden and plant something spectacular
Make up scavenger hunts for your family to go on in the backyard, neighborhood, city, etc.
Dig a bonfire pit and enjoy that puppy all season long!
Get far away from the city and lay under the stars
5. Camping can accommodate introverts and extroverts.
Curtis and I are very opposite on this spectrum. He's a socialite people person, and I'm usually the quiet observer that tends to like to not be around a ton of people (love people, just have social anxiety and it feels overwhelming to me!) So, I tend to love parks and campgrounds with lots of trees surrounding them in between each site for privacy and prime enjoyment of nature, and Curtis enjoys that too, but also loves to get to know others around him and doesn't mind a nearby neighbor or passerby. You can fulfill your need and desire for more or less people around you by doing a little research before hand. Oftentimes sites have maps and photos available on their website of the spots available and whether or not they are secluded, or if you're close, a drive through of the site is good research too. You can see which sites have more tree coverage and privacy or which ones have more fun social events and activities offered if that is your jam. And there's plenty available for in between too!
6. Beauty is all around us. The earth was created for us to enjoy.
True story. Insert lyrics of "This Land is Your Land" here. Seriously though, there is so much to be in awe of both big and small. From the mountains and forests and National Parks, to some of the simplest creations we take for granted every day that may be in our own backyard. This earth is meant to be enjoyed, taken care of and explored over and over again. There is so much to discover and learn about right below our feet. What a great gift we have been given.
So, start today. You don't have to bite off more than you can chew, but start small---start to get your family outside more and try the camping thing---see that you CAN do it. It will snowball and pretty soon you'll be looking on Craigslist for campers and RV's and planning trips across the states! I just know it! Let us know how it goes! Ask us questions--we're no experts, but have come a long ways in the past few years! We'd love to hear about your adventures, what you love to do outdoors or even what might be holding your back. One purpose of this site is to build a passion in others and confidence that they can do everything that we are--we are nothin' special by any means! Sometimes we just figure it out as we go too! If you want to explore the outdoors more and have more adventures, take the leap--you can do it! It's all totally worth it!
Have so much fun!
Check out #optoutside for thousands and thousands of ideas on IG to enjoy the outdoors!