Family Campouts: Making Memories

Updated: Feb 5, 2019

Henry jumped into the boxcar, and Jessie gave him the pine needles. He made four beds in one end of the car.
“This side is the bedroom,” said Jessie
“What will the other side be?” asked Bennie
“The other side?” asked Jessie. “Let me think. I guess that will be the sitting-room, and maybe some of the time it will be the kitchen.” . . .
. . . [Jessie] took the string out of the laundry bag and tied one end of it to a tree. The other end of the string she tied to the boxcar. This made a good clothesline. When she had washed one towel and Violet had washed the other one, they hung both towels on the clothesline.
“It looks like home,” said Henry. “See the washing!” He laughed.

--The Boxcar Children by Gertrude Chandler Warner

Henry, Jessie, Violet, and Bennie’s ingenuity, resourcefulness, and maturity fascinated me when I read The Boxcar Children in elementary school. They used what they could scrounge up to create a cozy home for themselves in an old, abandoned boxcar. At age 8 or so, I saw myself as Jessie, the smart, responsible, older sister tending to the basic needs of my family in a less-than-ideal situation. Like her, I would have found unique ways to provide the necessities of life while still having a lot of fun. My sisters and I spent many happy childhood summer days pretending we were the Boxcar Children.

I credit Henry, Jessie, Violet, and Bennie for planting the seed that grew into my absolute LOVE for camping! After we had children of our own, my husband and I made camping our family’s # 1 wholesome recreational activity every summer.

Recent articles have touted the rising popularity of camping, particularly among Millennials. Not long ago, my husband asked our five children, ages 26-33 (well within the “Millennial” age range) to name their favorite family vacation. Without fail, they chose a family camping trip. Granted, even when we visited Sea World in California or Disney World in Florida, we stayed at a campground. The seven of us could stay several nights at a campground for a lot less money than the cost of a hotel.

When I asked them to share a happy camping memory for this article, this is what they said:


“Tubing on the Schroon River (in northern New York), the funny things we said and the nature things we saw. “I remember when we all tried the ginger beer, because we all agreed it tasted horrible. I also remember when we camped out in the camper at Seneca Lake and we had to sleep under a lot of blankets because it was cold and we had no electricity.”