The Joy of Camping
I recently saw a tee shirt that said, “I might look like I’m listening to you but, I’m actually thinking about camping.” Hello! That’s me!
Some people will tell you I am a camping enthusiast but, the people who know me well will tell you that camping is a passion of mine.
From my earliest memories of fishing with my dad near our home in South Porcupine, Ontario, to growing up exploring the lakes and trails of Michigan, my childhood always seemed to revolve around the love that my parents had for the out of doors. They fished, they hunted and, they camped.
Over the years, I have camped with my Girl Scout Troup and with my own kids, whenever our schedules would allow. I worked a lot of overtime in those days and, my kids played sports. There was high school baseball in the spring, community baseball and softball in the summer, football in the fall and, travel hockey in the winter. We had one free week between summer ball and football two-a-days, to squeeze in a vacation. It didn’t leave much time to camp but, we managed. We would make a quick trip to Roscommon or head to the U.P. to spend the week in Crystal Falls.
Before I knew it, my kids were grown. Patrick and Angela started their own families. Dane left for college and then moved to Florida to begin his career. As the years went by, I found myself longing to get back into nature. I wanted to experience the fun of camping again. This time, I wanted to camp with my grandkids. It is important to me that they grow up the way I did, doing things like wandering in the woods, climbing the dunes and splashing in the many lakes of Michigan.
I feel very fortunate to live here. Michigan has so much to offer to the outdoor enthusiast. We have the five Great Lakes. Yes, I know that the other states have really good lakes but, only in Michigan do we have The Great Lakes!! We have approximately 11,000 lakes altogether. According to the Michigan Historical Society; “one is never more than 6 miles from and inland lake or more than 85 miles from one of the Great Lakes.” http://www.hsmichigan.org
We have the upper and the lower peninsulas. Both peninsulas are unique and beautiful. As though that weren’t enough, the two peninsulas are connected by the Mighty Mac! http://www.mackinacbridge.org
We have abundant forests, rivers, streams and thousands of miles of trails. There are 5 National parks, 101 State parks, 133 State forest campgrounds and 17 State harbors. There is so much to see and do.
I love planning camping trips to include the historic sites and the fun tourist stops too. Camping trips can be educational as well as fun. Last summer we went out on Lake Huron in a glass bottom boat to view the shipwrecks and, learn the history of the Great Lakes shipping industry. http://www.alpenashipwrecktours.com
We took the tour boat through the Soo locks. What a great experience it was to “lock through” into Canada and back. http://www.soolocks.com
We fed apples to the rescued bears at Oswald’s bear ranch and got to pet a cub. http://www.oswaldsbearranch.com
There were also the “just for fun” trips to places like Michigan’s Adventure. http://www.miadventure.com . We visited the Mystery Spot, http://www.mysteryspotstignace.com , and Dinosaur Gardens. http://www.dinosaurgardensllc.com. There is so much family fun to be had.
No wonder I still get excited when the time comes to start packing. I literally load the car to capacity with our camping gear and hope, that when it is time to break camp, I can fit it all back in again. No matter how I try, I somehow always manage to have a couple of things left over that the kids have to put on the floor under their feet for the ride home. Oh well.
So far, I have only camped in Michigan State Parks with my grandkids. I made a “fun” goal of trying to camp in all of the parks that have camping facilities. To keep track of where we camp, I actually put a map of Michigan on my wall. I mark the parks that we have camped in with a green sticker and , the parks that we have visited with a yellow sticker. Summer by summer, my map is filling up with green and yellow dots. This summer and fall we have reservations in 5 more Michigan State Parks and, for the first time, we are also camping out of state.
The memories that we are making are for life. My hope is that someday my grandkids will want to take their kids and grandkids to the places that I am showing them. I would like to think that they will sit by their campfire, eating smores and telling stories about the camping trips that we are enjoying now.
I can hardly wait for this year’s adventures to being. I hope that you too, will get out and enjoy what nature has to offer.
“What we have once enjoyed we can never lose. All that we love deeply becomes a part of us.”
- Featured photo: our campsite at Harrisville State Park
- A boy fishing in Whitefish Bay at sunset
- Brevort Lake in the fall
- The Mackinaw Bridge from Bridgeview Park
- Canoeing on the Muskegon River
- A rescued bear at Oswald’s Bear Ranch
- The Mystery Spot
- The Impala loaded for camping.
- Me at our campsite at Harrisville State Park