Camping in the Great Outdoors – Dad or Alive

Camping is something that I’ve grown up with. Whether it be popping a $30 tent in the backyard of my childhood home or something as ambitious as driving to a nearby Appalachian Trailhead with the Scouts, I loved it’s simplicity.

During my adolescence – it was about surviving in the wild, fishing for our dinner and starting our own campfire. We had little more than a sleeping bag and a mess kit. My canteen was a clearance sale acquisition from the local Army Navy store.

As a moved to California in my 20’s, camping took on another identity. It was an opportunity to let loose and spend time outdoors with friends, while indulging in many, many frosty beverages. There were too many weekend escapes to Joshua Tree National Park which I’ll never forget.

My wife and I have carried that love for the outdoors into our marriage. In fact, we split our honeymoon into two trips – one was a week-long cruise to Bermuda (her choice) and the other was a week spent deep in Sequoia National Park.

These days, my camping experiences are limited to a once-a-year excursion to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park with all the men in our extended family. It’s a tradition that happens each year, the day after Christmas. We trudge several miles upwards in bone-chilling temperatures to spend a night or two at the top of the amazing Mount LeConte.

As our family continues to grow, the opportunity to get outside and go camping becomes more and more complicated and unfortunately, less frequent. Whether it be juggling birthday parties, sports schedules or simply the magnitude of packing to take a family of six into the wilderness – those excursions are few and far between.

However, I’ve recently found a place that makes it a little bit easier to get out and enjoy nature – Jellystone Parks Camp-Resorts. With 84 locations across the United States, there was bound to be one close to my backyard. And I was right. In fact, there were 4 in Virginia alone.

We decided to explore one of the oldest in the franchise, only 40 miles from us in a little coastal town called Hayes. This Jellystone sits on the beautiful Severn River, a tributary to the Chesapeake Bay and is full of things for EVERYONE in the family to do.

From tent camping, to RV camping, boating, kayaking and fishing to a mini-water park, gem mining station, jump pad and more – we barely had a minute to catch our breath.

It just so happens that Jellystone Parks Camp-Resorts is sponsoring an awesome sweepstakes which will run until 11:59pm on June 10, 2018 and is giving away a 7-day/6-night trip to the Jellystone of your choice. They want to hear about YOUR camping hacks. The best one may get you a week in the wild!

My camping hacks generally lean towards the culinary side. Check out this video below to see my top three!

One of our hacks below should look pretty darn familiar!

Our Memorial Day weekend on Gloucester Point had us facing temperatures in the upper 90’s and the water park certainly grabbed our attention.

Perhaps it was because we visited on a holiday weekend, but one of the things that my wife and I noticed the most, was the sense of community. Families had made their individual RV or camping sites into little outdoor living spaces – huddled around the most important part (IMO) of the experience – the campfire. Lights and tiki torches dotted the landscape, along with stars and stripes hanging from dozens of golf carts.

As high winds and heavy thunderstorms rolled across the point around dusk, neighbors in the campground were hustling back and forth, offering help to one another – certainly reinvigorating my sense of humanity.

I had forgotten how quickly kids can become friends and how much fun they shared in common discoveries, as we took a pool break, took a ride on the old fire truck and mined for fossils and gems.

There’s nothing quite like getting your kids to put down their tablets and devices and engage with the world around them.

As the sun set on Virginia’s shoreline, we ate, laughed and I even taught the kids how to play ‘war’ with a deck of playing cards…all before retiring to the comfort of our home away from home.

I encourage you to visit a Camp Jellystone in your area and in the meantime, visit their sweepstakes and tell them about your camping hacks – maybe that visit will be free!

EDITOR’S NOTE: This is a sponsored post on behalf of Jellystone Parks Camp-Resorts, however the good times outside are all ours! For more on Jellystone, check them out HERE, on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

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