July 2011 Family Camping Trip

The Big Picture: Our two families on this camping trip had kids of very different ages (4 and 10), but the same reason for coming on this adventure – they love camping and want to introduce the activity to their kids, but their spouses prefer hotels! So, they joined me for a father-son and mother-daughter weekend in the woods!

The River Wild: Because it’s the middle of the summer, we camped near the Chattooga River, so we could wade in the water and go swimming whenever we felt like it. Though there was no rainfall to cool us off, the river was a perfect place to relax and stay cool.

Pyromania (in a good way): Though we we were not chilly in the evening, everyone was very excited about fire-building.

I have been practicing my fire-by-friction skills, so I brought out my bow-drill, spindles and fireboards and tried to produce an ember. Our 10-year-old worked with me, using the tandem bow-drill method, and we produce a lot of smoke, but no ember. Was it too humid? Did we not have the strength and endurance to drill long enough? Or were we just unlucky? No matter the reason, we sweat a lot and had a good time with it. And then we built a pyre, collected tinder, processed the wood we’d collected, and started a fire with only one match. It was a bit too hot to sit close the fire, but both of the kids really enjoyed the process and the result. In the morning, the 10-year-old and I were able to unearth enough coals from the previous night to restart the fire without matches. Here’s a video of us trying to create fire-by-friction:

Don’t Talk with Strangers: This advice isn’t quite accurate in the woods, because no one really seems like a stranger. Though we were were the only group camped in our area, we met many other nature-lovers this weekend. There was a group of 20 students from Kennesaw State University who’d backpacked 10 miles as part of a required class for their P.E. major. Though these students were worn out and tired, I hope that seeing our group in the woods helped them feel proud of their accomplishment and hopeful for a future in which many young people spend weekends in the woods.

We saw many groups of people in canoes, kayaks, and tubes, floating the river. And we met and shared our swimming hole with a nice family who also has fallen in love with the Chattooga River. Though movies like Deliverance make the wilderness sound scary, weekends like this one remind me how much community can be built through camping.

Firsts: This was a trip full of firsts! This was everyone’s first camping trip with their kids. And the kids built their first fire and had their first time swimming in a river.

If I had to sum up this camping trip in three words, they would be: Community, Swimming, and Enthusiasm

This was a fun camping trip with wonderful participants. Every time I lead a family trip, I am reminded of just how important it is to bring children to the woods!

To view more photos from our adventure, visit the Sure Foot Facebook page.