10 Reasons to Take Your Family Camping This Summer

Adapted from Original NRA Family article for Homeschool Idaho Magazine

With June on the horizon the cool fall days that were once filled with new books, freshly sharpened pencils, and an excitement for a new school year seem a distant memory.
As the days grow longer we start to feel a desperate need for a change of scenery.

The warmer weather calls us out, beckoning us to embrace a more relaxed schedule filled with barbecues, sprinklers, late nights, and sleeping in, but the loudest cry of all is the call to adventure!

For our family, one of the greatest joys of summer is to go camping together and we are blessed by the opportunities all around us to do so.

Here are just a few of the benefits we have found camping as a family.


1) Getting Away

Summer break for homeschool families is unique in that it is not the only time of year we are home together, so we do not have to ‘re-acclimate’ to one another, nor do our kids have the ‘newness’  of home that those sent away each day experience on break.
 Camping allows us to get out of the house for a change of scenery, learning and growing together in a new way, in a new place.
We always make sure we go just beyond cell service where there are no screens, no phones and no to-do-lists; where neither the yard work nor the house projects are staring at us; a place where there is nothing but time: time to be in the moment with one another, time to explore, run, climb and play, time to pick wildflower bouquets and make dirt tea, time to throw rocks and dig in the dirt.
Camping gets us away from the daily grind and the distractions that try to lure us into a life of doing rather than being.

2) Breeding Creativity

 Many people believe that we need to give our children everything: the newest toys, planned out activities, and constant entertainment. They think that it is our job to ensure that our children are never bored.
We believe one of the greatest things we can do for our kids is to send them outside with nothing and watch their imaginations, their minds and their creativity grow.
It is amazing what a child can create when you remove the conventional craft closets and toy bins and replace them with a forest full natures greatest ‘supplies’ to bring life to their ideas.
Worlds are created from tree falls, feasts prepared from foraged ingredients, creek games invented and played with fervor. Ideas become realities, inventions and beautiful creations.

 3) Cultivating Flexibility-  

“I forgot the ketchup.”
This short sentence uttered at camp has surely sent the family into a tailspin, complete with ‘how could you’ glares and all.
When there isn’t an endless supply of everything and the store is not down the road, we must be flexible.
When our boots are wet and our tennis shoes are wetter, we must be flexible.
When we forgot to cover the food and the raccoon ate the last of the ribs, we must be flexible.
Camping gives us many chances to cultivate flexibility, whether intentional or not.

4) Providing a Greater Education than Money Could Buy –
While some of us can sit back and read a book in the sun all day, others can’t be still for more than 5 minutes; and so begins the incredible education that happens in the woods as daddy leads them down a road of adventure-filled learning.
 They engineer tree log bridges across creeks, ponds for the fish they catch, shooting ranges and obstacle courses; they navigate using maps, compasses, and all that surrounds them to discover where they have been and where they want to go.
They learn how to build fire, identify tracks, and classify plants.
This is where every school subject is covered in an hour of ‘play.’

5) Hearing the Sounds of the Most Beautiful Orchestra –
Out there we hear no dings, rings or bleeping reminders; instead, we hear the sound of the wind blowing, the water flowing, and the birds chirping;  composed together with children’s laughter, fire crackling and trees creaking. There is no greater sound.

6) Giving an Opportunity to Work Together –
   When the early morning comes, the children are sent out to build the first fire of the day, together.  They work as a team finding the perfect fire starter, collecting the chopped wood and blowing the first spark. As the day goes on, they work together building forts, carrying logs across creeks to explore the other side and hauling buckets of water to build their ponds; all things they couldn’t do on their own. They have a vision together, they have dreams together and they need one another to execute their plans.

7) Having Deep Talks Around the Campfire –
         “Mommy? Who was daddy before he was daddy?”  We are asked around the campfire.
We are reminded that the deep questions that are asked now, when they are little, become the deeper talks that will happen later, as they grow.
          Something about poking at embers with a willow stick brings out the most profound conversations.
This is where, so often, the hearts of our children are poured out; around the campfire.

8) Stopping Time –
    When camping, time stands still.
 No appointments.  No clocking in or out.
The sun wakes you up and the stars lay you down.  We eat when hungry and we play until we need a rest.
The original clock becomes our time keeper once again.


  9) Having an Excuse for Junk Food –

        Bedtime s’mores, hot coco each morning, and real chocolate chip cookies (not the one’s with spinach that mom makes at home) are some of our great camping traditions that will grow into great camping memories.

10) Remembering the Greatest Thing –
When we are under the stars, surrounded by nothing but creation, we are reminded of how vast and great our Creator is; The One who made all of this for us to enjoy. We see His glory and we praise His name.



 So, from one homeschool family to another: Congratulations! You made it through another school year.
Now it’s time to go on an adventure. Take that same passion for learning and carry it into this new, warmer, greener season!
Pack up your tent and go!
Just don’t forget the bug spray!

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