Our Mom of the Month is Kim, a blogger and semi-life coach. She runs the Abundant Life Initiative, a e-narrative about living with purpose and peace. Today, she is sharing one of her most peace-giving past-times – camping.
Camping is an activity that far too many Black families and children miss out on. For whatever reason, Blacks are less likely too camp and too encourage their children to explore the outdoors.
We wanted to encourage more outdoor exploration in our community. Kim uses the wild to bring her family together, encourage exploration, and spiritual growth.
Did you go camping as a child? If so, could you talk about one of your fondest memories?
I did go camping as a child and it is why I love nature today. As a child, I recall my dad trying to teach me how to fish. I remember wading in the waters of Lake Del Valle and as a teenager, a scene I’ll never forget is my two best friends and I climbed up and sat in the watchtower to see the sunset. My mother recalled seeing our three heads and because of her memory, it solidified my memory of the time when my friends got to go camping with me.
What made you want to introduce your children to camping?
I want my kids to know what it feels like to be in nature, to learn how to fend for themselves in the wild, and to know how to create great family memories. It is my hope they pass on the tradition of camping, just as my parents did for me. My kids now look forward to the annual camp trips we still do with extended family.
Do you camp “all-natural” in a tent, or in a RV or cabin?
I have done all three camping experiences. Each offers a different camping experience. My dad’s trips were always all-natural. It wasn’t until I became an adult that I introduced him and the rest of my family to cabin camping – which many would say is not “real camping.” Just like me, my dad fell in love with cabin camping. He now has a camping trailer he takes with him on his all-natural camping.
I still do not mind all-natural camping, but as my parents get further up in age, the need for cabin camping grows. In addition, cabin camping can be done in any kind of weather, whereas all natural camping is very much subject to the weather conditions.
All-natural camping requires more set up and take down time, and recalling to bring all the things it takes to get a camp site up and running. If you forget something, chances are the nearest town is an hour away and some campsites make it where you can leave the site but not come back in until morning – so you really have to pack everything when you are all-natural camping.
Where are some of your favorite places to go camping and why?
A place we’ve been going since I was a little girl was Lake Del Valle in Livermore, California. Another spot we’ve been going to in the last couple of years was Camp Far West in Lincoln/Woodland, California. Those two places are in northern California and where we do outdoor camping. I’ve camped up and down many of the Sacramento regional rivers. Murphys, California has these great rental houses and cabins in Gold Country that I have fallen in love with. I love to take the kids to the caverns and we’ve even zip lined there, too. My all-time favorite place for cabin camping is Orick, California, which is in Humboldt County. The air is amazing up there! We stay in a fully stocked three bedroom, 2 bath cabin. Elk is right outside your window, the Redwood trees are gorgeous, and the air is so amazing. The ocean is nearby and I feel like I am on a spiritual sojourn when I go up there.
Why do you think so many Black people don’t camp?
Black people probably have concerns about biting bugs and big critters, and dealing with water or lack thereof. My guess is black people probably had less opportunity to go on camping excursions than their white counterparts. Limited to no access to nearby camping campsites also hinders black people from camping. Black people aren’t comfortable with exploring outside their comfort zone. I was blessed to live in Northern California, where the camping options are too numerous to count. I was also blessed that my parents are from rural Mississippi and value time with nature.
What does camping do for your family? (e.g., bring us together, spiritual reasons, etc.)
Camping keeps us connected and brings us together. Many of the children I grew up with and went camping to visit have families now, so to get together once a year is a much needed family gathering that takes place. We laugh, joke, dance, sing, eat, sleep, fish, play, run, jog, bike ride, study bugs and animals, and make new friends with other campers. We set out to have a good time, rain or shine, and we always do.
What can we learn (about life, self, nature, etc.) from spending time outdoors?
We can learn we are stronger than we know and we are more connected than we realize. I always have spiritual awakenings on my trips. I am living in the present and not worrying or fretting over work or bills. Instead, I am focused on what the day and living in the present. Camping grounds and centers me. I leave all my worries and cares at the workplace and the house. Many times, I have no cell phone connection, which is even better for really escaping into wilderness. People can learn to let go of their electronic devices for a while and to take time to get back to themselves by being in nature.
What are four things you always bring on your camping trip besides the obvious (maybe a journal or camera, etc.)?
Magazines and books
Lots of AA and AAA batteries
What are four things you won’t allow your family to bring (e.g., phones, computer, etc.)?
I probably should ban certain items, but I don’t. If we are au natural camping, then the devices will die before long and they are just a chore to manage, so the kids usually leave them home. People have to bring a good attitude and be ready to work – no sitting around until all the set-up is done. And, don’t bring colds and other contagious diseases – nothing worse than camping while sick or going to work with a cold you caught while camping. If you are going on a long trip in areas that might get cold at night, remember to pack/buy an emergency outdoor heater.