Celebrating Earth Day with a camping blitz

Big Girl and BFF hiking to celebrate Earth.

Big Girl and BFF hiking to celebrate Earth.

Tomorrow is Earth Day, which means it’s a perfect opportunity to teach kids about the wonder of nature what it means to respect the planet. We usually commemorate the occasion with a walk in the woods (which I’m doing with L, on a field trip through her school). This year, we’re taking our celebration one step further: We’re booking a number of summertime camping trips up and down the West Coast.

At least one of these campgrounds will be up on San Juan Island, where we’re headed for a three-week road-trip family vacation in June. Another one will be about 10 miles up the road, at a campground near our home in Northern California.

The others, however, are all over the lot: Eastern California, the Trinity Alps, even the Sonoma County coast.

The tilt for tents is the latest step in our ongoing push to get our girls more comfortable with being and sleeping outdoors. It’s also part of a concerted attempt to make them well-rounded travelers; we usually blow it out by staying in places such as Four Seasons and Fairmont resorts (many of which we book on Expedia), so Powerwoman and I want to make sure our kids can appreciate a breadth of overnight experiences.

We certainly aren’t one of the only families expecting to go camping at a higher frequency this coming year. Looking ahead to the 2015 camping season, a majority of campers plan to spend more nights camping, according to the 2015 North American Camping Report, an independent study supported by Kampgrounds of America, Inc. (KOA).

The report, which was released earlier this spring, also noted that the heart wins out over the wallet, as more people today see camping as a way to escape the stress of everyday life than as an affordable vacation option. More interesting tidbits:

  • According to campers, reconnecting with nature (55 percent), reducing stress (54 percent), and spending more time with family and friends (49 percent) are the key reasons they camp. Economic and practical values were only identified as reasons for camping by less than 35 percent of those surveyed.
  • Campers are likely to say that camping improves family relationships; in fact, 41 percent “completely agree” with this.
  • Additionally, almost four out of 10 campers (39 percent) suggest that camping has “a great deal of impact” on allowing them to spend more time with family. Another third of campers say that camping has a positive impact on their relationships with family and friends (35 percent) and their emotional well-being (36 percent).

Another fascinating finding from the report: Camping rates among nonwhites (those who self-identify as African-American, Asian/Pacific Islander or Hispanic) have doubled from as recently as 2012, jumping to 23 percent from 12 percent.

I won’t get sidetracked with specifics from the KOA report (for more, click here). The gist: Camping is becoming more popular—not just with our family, but with many families across the country.

As you and your family celebrate Earth Day 2015, ask yourself how many opportunities you’re giving your kids to connect with nature. Camping is a great way to build more of this into your life. It’s cheap. It’s outdoors. It’s easy. Best of all, it’s fun. For everyone.

Where have you stayed on some of your most memorable camping trips?

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