1 Mediocre Campground + 35 Years of Family Tradition = Priceless

by This is Carrie on July 20, 2009

photo by my nephew, the king of awesome iphone photos.

First posted HERE August 10, 2006

We just got back from our Annual Family Camping Trip. Words cannot express how much I love this camping trip with my family. I look forward to it every year. It’s seriously awesome!
The first year my dh came to the Annual Family Camping Trip (right after we were married), I remember him being a little disappointed in the whole experience. Not that he had a bad time, it just did not live up to the expectations I had set by my inability to stop raving about it for months beforehand. I just couldn’t understand why he couldn’t see it’s awesomeness!

That’s when I realized something. If you look at each years camping trip by itself, there is really nothing that special, awesome, or “super fun” about it. Some people might even call it dull. The scenery is not that pretty, the fishing is not that good, we don’t have a boat, there are yellowjackets galore. The list of un-ideal circumstances goes on and on.

But here’s the thing: my family has gone camping at the same spot, each summer, for 35 years. That’s right, 35 years. This family tradition began before I was even born! What started with a large family of 9 has now turned into an event for a huge family of 70. Each year’s camping experience is a compilation of memories from past years. That’s why it’s so awesome. And that is why nobody really “gets” it their first year–or even their second, third, or fourth.

Every year we tell the story of when “B”(now 28 yrs old) almost rode her big wheel of the cliff and her uncle “J” grabbed her just in the nick of time or when all the kids got lost on the Turkey Trail (actually this has happened numerous times). Or when “A” got a tick in his head or when “E” locked himself in the portapotty, or when “K” ran all the way from town into the campground (now, long-distance running at camp has become a tradition itself), or when we held a proper burial for our family’s old canvas tent after a night of pouring rain. There are 35 years of memories at that old, not-so-ideal campground. Every once in a while, we talk about changing the venue for our family camping trip to somwhere “nicer” but that discussion never lasts very long. We go camping at the same spot because we have always gone to the same spot and no other place would ever be the same.

I want so much for my kids to have the same memories of camping with the family that I have. I don’t want to just pass on the memories in writing or words. I want them to experience it and be part of it. I want them to know it for themselves.

I think this is the essence of tradition. There is something comforting(?), beautiful(?), amazing(?) about seeing my daughter play in the same dirt, walk on the same trails, and interact with her cousins the same way I did when I was her age (except I didn’t play with my cousins, I played with my nieces and nephews who were my same age. What can I say–that’s what can happen in some big mormon families!).

I appreciate so much the hard work my parents put into keeping this family tradition alive (especially now that I realize how hard it is camping with a baby) and the continued efforts of my brothers and sisters who have now taken over the coordination of the event. And when they completely peeter out, I am confident that the next generation will be ready to carry it on because we all know that it’s totally worth the effort.

Moral: 35 year old family traditions don’t happen without hard work and sacrafice by all family members. I think it’s really hard to see the true value of a tradition when it’s still in it’s early years, but all the effort pays off a hundred fold down the road. So, support your extended family traditions today! Or, start a family tradition of your own!

Update 2007: Reading around the blogs today, I stumbled across a few people speaking about their own family gatherings (and how they are miserable) and I realized I have one more thing to appreciative of: My family actually gets along (for the most part). We really do like being together. I think I can sometimes take this for granted but now I have been reminded that I am really lucky.

So, if you can’t relate to a long-weekend of camping with your extended family because you would rather get a root canal than deal with said family, sharing bathrooms, food and chores in the dirt, focus on beginning some special family traditions with your immediate family. Because who knoes, maybe 35 years down the road, you actually might still like to hang out together. It could happen!


{ 4 trackbacks }

Tips for Camping with Kids | This Mama Makes Stuff
July 19, 2010 at 5:09 pm
Family Campout 2010 Recap: The Beauty | This Mama Makes Stuff
July 19, 2010 at 5:57 pm
Camping 2011 Recap: The Lake | This Mama Makes Stuff
July 18, 2011 at 8:17 pm
Family Camp Out 2009 Recap: The Wildlife | This Mama Makes Stuff
July 18, 2011 at 8:30 pm

{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

peace......judi July 20, 2009 at 8:00 am

uHi Carrie!

I so enjoy your blog and I have been inspired by many of your posts!

I ran and biked a duathlon yesterday…..Wow! A duathlon in the summer is quite something!

Anyway, I blogged about it & thought I would share with you!

Love your adventures! Judi


Jeanie July 20, 2009 at 2:51 pm

Amen! Thanks for posting this…and for helping make Lopez special to our family. –Big Sister J.


delilas July 20, 2009 at 3:11 pm

Loved this post!
My big Mormon family has a reunion every year in the same place for the last 18 years. The second and third generation loves it as much as us siblings. This year I was not able to attend but 3 of my children and new diL went and loved it. The comment was .."it is fun having my own relationship with my Aunts and Uncles and Cousins." We have had very little time living close to family so for my children to have a relationship with extend family is a great and amazing thing. I hope to start traditions with our family as now they are growing up and it makes it harder for us to get them all together.


Grandma July 20, 2009 at 6:24 pm

Thanks for these special comments, Carrie. It makes me feel like no matter what work or sacrifice it takes to create memories for children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren, is SO worth it. I not only enjoy, but treasure the time I spend with my special posterity at this annual event. And I still love sleeping in a tent on the ground (as long as I have an air mattress), eating in the out of doors, and spending time enjoying God's beautiful creations. But my greatest joy is seeing my family so close and wanting to carry on the tradition.


Grandpa Reply:

It was a double high air matteress this year. Esier to get up for a seventy-seven year grandpa. Thanks for your loving comments Carrie. — Dad


Cheryl July 21, 2009 at 2:17 am

I just wish I could have been there this year.

But thank you for taking lots of pictures!


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