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I’ve recently refurbished the canoe I built in the late 1970’s for my daughter to have. I began thinking about camping as the canoe was an important part of our camping experience. My history began in Boy Scouts as my family did not camp until I was married. I camped at the regional scout camp, did some remote camping with our local troupe, attended Philmont in NM when in high school, and even took my little brother for some overnights. Once we married the Ms. and I did some trips in my Dad’s pickup camper and then there were kids. As soon as they were old enough to hike we began on the Long Trail and after a few trips the Ms. said “enough hiking” so we moved on to canoe camping which she liked. We took many trips with and without the kids into the North Maine Woods, Penobscot River, Connecticut lakes and river, all the nearby waterways and lakes, and the Allagash Wilderness Waterway. The boat was even portaged 2+ miles up to Mud Pond to trace the Henry David Thoreau adventure. It got used hard and put away wet as they say. Now 40 years later it needed some TLC and a new owner.
We went on the preverbal great American road trip in the early 1980’s with the kids in two tents and a Mazda GLC. By the 1990’s tenting had gotten old and we had a succession of “campers”- a tow behind popup trailer, a VW Westfalia we owned for about 10 years, an F150 with a popup camper slide in, then in 2015 the Promaster. We have learned a lot about keeping warm, keeping cool, cooking and eating in the wild, finding remote and wonderful places, adapting to the resources, bathroom skills and living large on a little.
Would you share your experience?
RD
 

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Not upon careful examination, but at first glance and except for the kids and the boat, that photo could be mistaken for my first husband and me on our first camping trip.

My parents were of the Depression era, so they were proud to have never spent a night without a real roof over their heads. My first camping trip was July 4 weekend, 1971. It was stifling hot in Monroe, LA, so we packed up the couch cushions, sheets from the bed, a tarp and some rope and headed to Hot Springs, AR. Ex had been an Eagle Scout, so he made a bed of branches under the cushions. It rained torrents that night, nothing got wet, and I was hooked.

It was MrNomer, though, who taught me to stretch my personal envelope to include hiking and backpacking.
 

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Who are those young people? I’ve met Mrs. RD & the RD kids and they don’t look anything like those people in the photo ;)
Ha ha, There is an App that is all the rage that might let you take those peoples' faces and age them about 40 years and then all would look familiar! For the Ms and I it is hard for us to think we ever looked that good!

MsNomer,
Seeing ourselves in other’s adventures is to live vicariously, a good thing, but having really done it is better as you well know. I lead hikes and desert trips each winter to very remote border natural areas and many of the participants have the same reaction- they get hooked.
 

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My first experience was "2nd Grade Camp". It was the last week of the school year and the entire class went to camp for a week. It wasn't tent camping, but tiny cabins, but there was a ton of outdoor activities, hikes and just being in nature. I won't say that I was hooked then because it would be years before my next camping trip however I really enjoyed it and looking back now (I’m 36) I have very fond memories still to this day. My parents weren't really into anything outdoors so family trips and activities never revolved around the outdoors. I met my wife at 22 in 2005 and while we did a lot of walks/hikes, we never really got into camping until our honeymoon in 2011. We went to Big Sur CA and the surrounding areas. We did a day trip to Pinnacles National Monument (now National Park), and just explored the park all day. It was an amazing day and it really sparked my desire to be outside more and camping was the best way (and cheapest way) to do that. I started backpacking and tent camping in PA and surrounding area. Having no real experience, it didn't take much learning to get going. The camping side of thing was just a technicality as I would basically just hike all day and set up camp to sleep. I don't do a lot of other activities other than hike (I don't fish, hunt, ect.)

The camping experience changed when we started doing a lot of international travel and made it to Iceland in 2015. The concept of an RV, in my mind, was always a big Winnebago class C or Class A, which I had no desire to own or drive. The option for a tiny camper never really was in my radar (I didn’t even know they existed). We booked a two week trip in a Ford Transit Connect. Iceland is very open to camping anywhere so the freedom to just drive as long as you wanted, then pull over and camp was amazing. When we got back to the US, I started my research, found out about class B RVs, then found out how expensive Class B RVs were, then found out about DIY vans, then found this forum, then talked my wife into letting me buy a van to build out, then got insanely lucky with Steve selling his van at a steal of a price, then move out west for more access to parks I enjoy (I spend way too much time in Utah), then mother in law moved with us, then she decided she wanted to travel with us in the van, only having two bed I’m back outside in the tent and I don’t really mind it ;) As long as we are getting out I really don’t care where I sleep.

Still working a typical 8-5 I only get out on weekends and 3 weeks a year for paid time off. We try to make the best of weekends, but I still wish I had more time for being outdoors. Sometimes it feels like day trips since you really only have 1.5 days once you factor in travel time and getting back to get ready for the grind of the work week.
 

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Fun thread - great for bringing back memories. Don't remember my first camping experience, but it would have been in the local woods in upstate NY where my brother and I (and neighbor kids) would build forts. We were probably around 10 or so. At one time we had a tree fort with about 15 different levels, spread out over many trees and connected by ramps. We even had a dog elevator (bicycle rim and rope...) and would bring our terrified dogs up high to sleep with us. it's a wonder we didn't fall and break our necks. Fun, innocent times! I give great credit to my parents - who I don't ever remember once actually sleeping on the ground - letting us have a lot of freedom. Wife and I have tried to do the same with our son, (our partner in the Promaster) who starts a 150 mile hike today on the Pacific Crest Trail. We consider his love for the mountains one of our biggest successes with him (and there are many, says a proud parent...)

Just last week back from our first ever van trip. ~4000 miles R/T to Whitehorse/Dawson. We spent 14 days kayaking the Yukon River - Tents and sandbars. (Years ago Bro and I did the entire length of the Yukon in kayaks. Now that was a trip!) Anyway, what did I learn by driving the Promaster north? That there is absolutely stunning country in northern BC and the Yukon Territory. Driving through Muncho Provincial Park was a highlight - plan to return and spend some serious time hiking/backpacking.

For those thinking about retirement - do it. I'm only about 6 months into mine, but I still wake up excited each day for all the possibilities.
 

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Wonderful pics, RD, and great stories by all.
 

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Not my first "camper" but I bought this Bronco new in January '70, took out the front passenger & rear seat, threw a Coleman stove and a cooler in along with a piece of foam to sleep on and drove from Boston to the Panama Canal and back. I lived in it for 3 months (alone) and sold it when I got home!

This photo shows it parked at the Canal in March of 1970 ready to head back home!


This is somewhere on the Pan-American highway in Guatemala
 

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My dad got two weeks of vacation a year. In the late 50's and early 60's, the four of us spent those two weeks camping our way through the western National Parks and Monuments. At first, it was a green canvas umbrella tent from Sears. I still remember breaking camp one morning in Monument Valley and finding several large scorpions under the tent. Eventually, dad started renting tent trailers and then folding hard-sided trailers, all towed by a 6-cyl Dodge Dart. We missed carrying on that tradition with our kids, but they picked it up as adults anyway. Once the youngest ones became teens, my wife and I started touring in Europe in rented Class-B+ RVs. That hooked us on RVing, which lead to Shiny.
 

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CV-60. That would be the USS Saratoga. One of the first "super carriers". (I looked up her Wikipedia page.) With the Phantoms on her deck, this is from a bit later in her career? Also, guessing that's an Oklahoma-class heavy cruiser on her starboard.

Brings back memories of touring the Midway in San Diego.
 

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CV-60. That would be the USS Saratoga. One of the first "super carriers". (I looked up her Wikipedia page.) With the Phantoms on her deck, this is from a bit later in her career? Also, guessing that's an Oklahoma-class heavy cruiser on her starboard.

Brings back memories of touring the Midway in San Diego.
Yes Sir that was Super Sara and her sister Firestal were station back in Jacksonville FL before they got decommission;)
 

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I started camping with my folks when I was young. They had a series of popup campers and we would alternate between taking longer trips around the US (3 weeks) and heading up to Northern MN to a favorite NFS campground. Sometimes we would head up there almost every weekend of the summer - 13 times in a summer. We did a lot of canoe fishing and some basic hiking and then around the US, we did the sightseeing and the bigger NPs and so on. In HS and then in college, I did some simple camping along with more trips up to the BWCA - I love canoeing and camping. Not too long after we got married, my wife and I packed out gear on a plane and headed out to Seattle to see one of my interns who was now in Grad School out there, hung out with him for the weekend and then did a 7 day camping thing in the Pac NW. That was an awesome trip after labor day - places were deserted.

After kids born, continued to tent camp until we got so much stuff we couldn't get it all in the minivan with the three (at the time) kids. Went to the camper show and looked, came back to work and mentioned it to a coworker and lo and behold he had a popup he wanted to sell. That was 15 years ago and we haven't looked back since then. Hauled the kids all over the US, at one time had all seven kids and the dog camping and sleeping in the popup camper. Down to four kids now on the latest 19 day camping trip - they seem to tire of it now, so I probably have to change duration for them, but we are getting in some epic hikes that are awesome and memorable. Really, I think a lot of this is scouting for when I get to retire, as my wife and I can't wait to explore all of the awesome places in NA to see. Kids say they don't like it, but then later they talk about it so I know that it is getting in their DNA.

Probably going to go the campervan route next year if it gets to be just the wife and I or maybe only one or two kids and that will be even more freedom. Camping has allowed us to see so much for so little. On this last trip, lodging and gas for 19 days was about $1300 and allowed us to see and experience some fantastic areas. Can't wait to expand that more moving forward, but don't want to wish away anything and just let it come as time allows.
 

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learnt it from my parents. avid nature campers and I am **** grateful to them for showing me all the tricks and tips growing up.
bonus: had a wonderful childhood playing with bugs... and an occasional bear. lol
 
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