By the New York Sherpa
Camping for many people immediately brings to mind the wrong image.
Perhaps the scene that first pops into your mind is trying to assemble a tent contraption while smacking away mosquitos and spiders…and the snakes—oh my! The second scene might be hearing a bear snorting outside of your cold, thin tent at night. And no, not Smokey checking up on your McCampfire skills.
Well, that’s not camping anymore, unless you want it to be. Camping has really evolved into outdoor lodging, and I especially like to call it that in front of my camping-cautious wife (she thinks the Red Roof is camping, but that’s another story).
As the world we live in has become increasingly busier, camping is an authentic way to slow down with the family and connect with fresh air, a warm fire and a lava-hot marshmallow.
You may remember camping in the woods as a kid, but now the more popular family options are the privately owned campgrounds. Most now have security gates, heated pools, overnight security, stores, bundled firewood and Wi-Fi throughout their parks.
It’s less the idea of being alone in the wilderness, and more about the idea of ensuring organic family time around nature while still being close enough to the amenities and technology of life to enjoy yourself like you would at a hotel. The dogs can come, the kids can bring their bikes and you stock your own refrigerator before leaving if you have an RV or camper.
For most people who want to try this experience I suggest a cabin or cottage, which are popping up at many campgrounds. This is a great way to get into the camping experience and make some amazing family memories. Kids love feeling like they’re sleeping somewhere special, of course, and you’ll still have access to a hot shower (a prerequisite for Mrs. Sherpa).
Another option is camping in an RV. With an RV, you are towing a nice hotel room—you have a bathroom with a shower; a kitchen with an oven; a couch with a TV; and your own safe, bed-bug-free bed every night with your own sheets. These units can be towed by either an SUV or a truck depending on how large the unit is. Many pop-up or hybrid models provide these basic amenities as well.
One of the most important aspects of camping is that it’s an incubator for a child’s love and respect for the outdoors. Camp- grounds protect open spaces and woodlands as a part of their business, and children who connect with nature are far more likely to grow up with an appreciation of and a desire to pre- serve those spaces.
Go take a tour of some of your local campgrounds—you may be surprised to see there are some just 20 or 30 minutes from you. Once you hit on one you like, you’ll find that a quick weekend away at a local campground can create just as many happy memories as that “big” vacation farther away. Some people love the experience so much they keep their camper on a site for a whole season. It’s like having a house in the country… but with Wi-Fi.
One of my favorite sites is Rip Van Winkle Campgrounds in Saugerties—ask for Eric or Brian and go take a tour. See more information at www.ripvanwinklecampgrounds.com.
The New York Sherpa has traveled New York State for over 12 years, experiencing nearly everything there is to do. He is the resident expert on the New York’s Best Experiences Tour and the forthcoming NewYorksBestExperiences.com.