When my brother and I were teenagers, our parents bought a motorhome. Not the big fancy tour bus kind, though. It was the beige, wood-paneled, shag carpeted kind. They outfitted it with extra pots, silverware, and bedding from the house, and would take off down the road on Fridays for a weekend away from a house-full of angsty teenagers and incessant sibling squabbles. I never understood why they wanted to drive all the way out to the woods to sleep in an old RV.
If you’ve come here to be talked out of buying a camper, turn around immediately. Do not pass go. Do not collect $200.
Some of my fondest memories of growing up involve that old motorhome. Memories like sleeping in a tent outside next to the door, or crashing on the outrageously uncomfortable couch, or having to wake up at 6 a.m. because my Dad was up, drinking coffee, cooking bacon on the outdoor stove, and watching the sunrise over whatever lake we happened to land at that weekend. My brother and I argued less, had more fun, and interacted with our parents in an environment that didn’t involve grades, homework, or extracurricular activities. It brought us together as a family.
Eventually, some of our parents’ friends bought campers, and soon, we were a whole caravan of crazy people. As we got older, more fun things were added to the mix – jet skis, fishing boats, motorcycles, more tents, more friends, girlfriends, boyfriends, beer pong, karaoke, and questions about where we’d all be the next weekend. My parents became everyone’s parents, and as a result, my parents always knew who we were with and what we were doing. Our house became everyone’s house. We all gradually got older, and raucous weekends with the family were less frequent, but still fun.
Fast-forward a few years, and Dad was deep in the trenches of heart disease and kidney failure. The motorhome was sold, and when he died at the young age of 53, we were lost. Without him, everyone else starting selling their campers, too, and the fun, caravan weekends at the lake seemed to die with him. He was the glue of our camping life, and without him, it was less fun, less jovial, less…everything.
Now, nearly 10 years later, my husband and I are raising the most beautiful daughter we could’ve ever imagined. Turns out, my husband’s parents had a big camper, too, and it was nice to discover that he’d lived a very similar childhood to mine. Getting an RV of our own someday was always a goal, and that’s exactly what happened. We bought our first camper in January 2017, and it certainly wasn’t anything fancy.
Your camper doesn’t have to be super fancy – you spend most of your time outside, anyway. We worked frantically to fill it with everything we’d need, and the very next weekend, we were parked in my dad’s favorite campsite in Bristow. That first night, after we’d put our daughter to sleep in her bunk, I sat outside by the water and cried. I missed him. He would’ve loved that I was finally sharing one of his favorite things with the little family he never got to meet.
Over the next few months, four of our close family members and their families bought campers. You guessed it, we are now a new caravan of crazy people. We spend weekends at various state parks and private RV resorts. I watch and listen as my sweet husband wakes up and sneaks outside to make coffee and watch the sunrise over whatever lake we landed at. I laugh as I watch him with our daughter, exploring the woods, collecting sticks and rocks, or playing in the water. I hope that as our 6-year-old grows, her friends find joy in joining us on these trips, and her childhood is filled with the same beautiful memories that I have. Is it expensive? Yes, it can be. Is it worth it? Absolutely.
Again, if you’ve come here to be talked out of buying a camper, you’ve come to the wrong place. For us, it’s a perfect investment in family time, and the perfect way to stay connected to the Dad I miss so much.
Have a great RV camping spot to share, or want a list of the best camping in the state? Let me know in the comments!