Every summer road trip I try to book a little stretch at a campground that is very kid-centric. It is my attempt to forge an enduring association between fun and camping. My hope is that when they are dads, their fond memories of these trips will spur them to do the same thing with their families.
The happy memories I forged on family camping trips are definitely a big reason why I take the kids on camping trips today. Some of my favorite childhood memories are tied to camping. Going to Watkins Glen for the ISMA sports car races with a group of my parents’ friends and their families and the kids riding bikes from morning to dusk around the track. Making friends with guys at the KOA campground in Myrtle Beach and Wolf’s Den Campground in Knox, PA (where I promised the boys I would take them on the way home from this trip) playing basketball and then spending the rest of the time talking about the girls at the pool. Having my Uncle Charlie’s peach cobbler cooked over the campfire on family camping trips with my second cousins. Just enjoying time where family life was less tense and more relaxing.
The boys had a great time at Jellystone. We spent the better part of each day at the water park. They loved running between the wave pool, hot tub, and lazy river. They rode the kid water slides a million different times, and the big water slide a couple times. Lucas loved the big picnic basket (it is a Yogi Bear themed resort after all) that would fill with water and dump it on the heads of people standing below. Lucey always seemed to be in the middle of the crowd. They did pretty much everything together. Just like my brother and I used to.
We watched Yogi Bear cartoons in the outdoor theater one night. I couldn’t believe how unfunny they are, but the boys found them amusing.
My favorite part of our movie night at the campground came before the cartoons or movie even started. The boys spontaneously led a group of kids in rolling down the big hill at the theater. It was that kind of innocent, spontaneous, and wild fun that is, in my mind, the essence of a good childhood. By the end, they had recruited 6-10 other kids to join them. It brought a smile to my face when I remembered all the hours I spent rolling down the bank at my grandma’s house with my brother and cousins.