I just returned from a “camping” trip. We stayed in a “lodge”, which is a glorified term for “Big Room with 5 bunk beds, a bathroom and a shower, but with A/C and carpeting”.  So… for 3 nights in the lodge, the minivan was crammed full of bedding, towels, clothing, shoes, water toys, and food and drinks–  for just 4 days and 3 nights.

This was our fourth camping trip to the same “family camp”. The kids look forward to it all year. Each year they reach new milestones and make new memories to carry on to adulthood. I’m thankful to keep up this tradition for the kids; what a wonderful experience and a cherished family memory for them.

What are the best things about this (and previous) camping trips I’ve enjoyed? I’m listing my top 30 below!

1. Spending time outdoors, LOTS of time outdoors

2. Kids can roam freely and I don’t worry about them (at the camps I’ve been to)

3. A cafeteria on the grounds as a backup plan, or as the main plan

4. Going with friends who have kids means the kids have company too

5. Sitting at the beach with nothing to do (except fervently keeping an eye on the kids playing in the water)

6. Chatting with friends for hours around a campfire at night

7. Sitting around a campfire at night being quiet

8. Seeing hundreds of stars in the country night sky

9. Taking a  hike through the woods- alone

10. Biking all over the camp facility

11. Someone playing the guitar and singing worship songs by the campfire

12. Sharing stories around the fire– true stories, scary stories, funny stories

13. Swimming in a lake

14. Paddleboating with a child

15. Watching a movie in the outdoors

16. Drinking a strong cup of coffee in the morning, sitting by the remains of the previous night’s fire

17. Eating a huge breakfast cooked outside

18. Eating 3 meals a day outside, under a screened tent

19. Going to bed exhausted each night– but tired in a good way

20. The memories from the trip that carry on through the year

21. Keeping it a yearly tradition

22. Roasting marshmallows and hot dogs around a fire

23. Watching kids of all ages on “the blob”

24. Seeing one of my kids climb the water “iceberg”

25. Mini-golf, BB guns, watermelon eating contest, volleyball, and all the other activities on the campsite

26. Tubing down a river. It’s like a jungle. Glad I did it once but won’t do it again.

27. Seeing how sharing around a campfire can make a grown man cry

28. Getting to know people better through the camping experience; good for family and friendship bonding

29. Waking up early and walking by the lake

30. Marveling anew over God’s creation, and gaining new insights and perspective from the time spent away

That’s just 30– I could add more, but this is what is fresh on my mind right now, after returning from family camp yesterday. Truly I don’t consider myself a “camper”. I didn’t camp for the first time until I was well over 30 years old. I prefer not to sleep on the hard ground, and I’m not planning when my next camping adventure will be– it’s not what I live for. It’s frankly not convenient cooking on a camping stove. It’s annoying to keep replenishing a cooler with ice and having water seep into the food. And, I can’t stand mosquitoes! I don’t like competing with flies for my hamburger. I like my own private hot shower. My clothes smell like a combination of bug spray and campfire smoke. BUT– my conclusion is that all of these “inconveniences”,  and the preparations before a camping trip, and even the clean up after, make the stuff in the middle all worth it! I’ll gladly do it again and look forward to doing it all again. In fact, I don’t mind two family camps next year instead of just one.