I earned my camping stripes early on as the daughter of an Eagle Scout. Every piece of equipment our family owned was Army issued. My sisters and I slept in an eight-man green canvas tent that seemed to weigh hundreds of pounds. In inclement weather the three of us girls would huddle in the middle, repeating our mantra over and over…don’t touch the sides, don’t touch the sides.
One time, when I was about eight, my father refused to cancel a scheduled trip to Assateague Island despite an approaching hurricane. The State Park ended up shutting down but that didn’t deter my father; we just stayed at Chincoteague, which for some unaccountable reason was still open for business. He encouraged us to look on the positive side–despite the lack of any services whatsoever, we had the whole place to ourselves! Imagine that.
So you can see why, when Jeremy and I decided to buy a pop-up camper four years ago, I really felt like I was purchasing a luxury good. I thought, I will never suffer again. This has everything a girl could want and more.
Except it didn’t. We have mutually declared the pop-up both the best and worst decision we have made in our short time as parents. It was the best in that it changed the way we interact as a family, bringing adventure, joy, and flexibility into our boys’ everyday experiences. It was the worst in that we were unable to go on a single trip without something going wrong. Every single time we set up or broke down we could count on the hot water heater not lighting or the roof not rising, or the door not snapping in correctly or…you get the picture.
Throw a couple of infants in the mix and it becomes a bit of a challenge to stay cheery, you know?
So when my husband began researching the next big thing, I put up my usual fight. But my heart wasn’t really in it. I was ready for a bit of the good life. I had seen plenty of RVs in our travels and I was ready for the real deal. And now I have it.
It is with some reluctance that I admit to not missing the pop-up even a little. I acknowledge the value it added to our lives, and I even cried a little when we left it at the dealership as a trade-in. But seriously, good riddance: Mama has a stove now. And an outdoor kitchen. It is not even a contest.
So now we still get to have all the adventure and joy with just a little less flexibility required. Down the road a bit, if I feel the boys are getting too soft, I’ll just throw them into an army tent outside the camper in the middle of a good storm. Then they will learn to appreciate the luxury of our trailer as much as I do.