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A family tradition, camping edition.

My happy place

Some of our best memories were made camping. We still sit around the campfire and laugh about all the silly things that have happened for 20 years and counting. Fresh air, campfires, and s’mores.

We were out on our hike last weekend, while away camping at Murphy’s Point Provincial Park in Perth, Ontario. My 24-year-old son says “M’am, I think Leigha and I would have been different people if we didn’t camp as a family every year”.

His words absorbed into my soul. How could something so pure and simple like camping mean so very much to two now adult children? Did I know those moments at the time could have such a significant impact on them now? Would they be different people if we chose more extravagant vacations?

Camping has been our family tradition from the time my children were born. I believe Nathan’s first camping trip was when I was 8 months pregnant with him. We have gone ever since, and have fantastic memories stored up from all of them.

The three musketeers.

Cell phones off. The time is just ours, no interruptions. I can’t say raising teenagers was easy, however, I can say when it came to camping with them, it was easy. I feel they have learned so much from it. They know how to cook almost anything outdoors, and that a little dirt never hurt anyone.

Now, as adults, they are bugging us to get camping spots booked, so we don’t let the summer go by.

Leigha and Nate around 6 and 9 years old

Leigha and Nate , 21 and 24 years of age

Did you know that camping is growing in popularity and surprisingly, by millennial's? With provincial parks so accessible to us – you don’t have to travel far. 59% of campers stay within 100 miles of home. There are so many options now, with yurts, cabins and trailer rentals, or investing in a tent or a trailer of your own. We are tent people. According to 2019 KOA North American Camping Report, since 2014, there has been an addition of an estimated 7 million new camper households in the U.S., and the percentage of campers who camp three or more times annually has increased by 72 percent. They also say that while hiking/backpacking and fishing continue to be the most popular recreation activities among campers, more active recreation continues to grow in popularity. This makes me feel good to see people looking at a simpler, more meaningful time away from the hustle and bustle of life.

Our set up

I enjoy the moment that I wake up to the moment I shut my eyes. However, I think nighttime is my favorite. My children, husband and I in sleeping bags, the tent flap open, the shimmering stars above with the loons chanting their song. The stress I came with leaves and a feeling of peace sets in.

Camping has absolutely shown us how to respect the natural world. We enjoy hiking and biking trails, swimming and eating really great meals, prepared on the open flame, or propane grill. Food somehow always tastes better when cooking this way. Nate makes the best toasted Philly Cheese-steak sandwiches on his Camp Chef. I thought I would share his recipe.

Nate’s Philly Cheese-steak – Camp Chef Style

1 (12-ounce) flank steak

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil

1 cup thinly sliced onion

1 1/2 cups thinly sliced green bell pepper

2 teaspoons minced garlic

1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

1/2 teaspoon lower-sodium soy sauce

1-ounce provolone cheese

½ cup Barbecue sauce

2 cups of Beef Au Jus

Fresh Hoagie buns

Squirt some olive oil on grill.

Mix meat in fresh garlic, Worcestershire sauce and soy sauce.

Fry all meat, onions and peppers, garlic separately.

Toast Hoagie buns.

Spread some barbecue sauce on inside open-faced bun, then layer meat,

onions and peppers.

Place provolone over top of open face hoagie.

While still open faced, wrap it with tin foil, and put back over heat to melt cheese.

Dip in some Beef Au Jus for some extra flavor.

Serves 4

The recipe can include chicken instead of beef

Whether your children are 3, 13 or 30, take them camping. Trust me, it is the best way to connect with them and cherish some unbelievable time together. Pack a tent, bug spray, couple of bikes, towels for swimming and take off. You will feel like a different person when you come back.

Live simple, go camping.

Tracy x

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