All four of us enjoy exploring new places and revisiting our familiar favorites, but we don’t have a lot of room for travel in our family budget. So in February when tax return money was left over after making some necessary expenditures, our thoughts immediately turned to trip planning. But costs add up quickly when four people are flying, sleeping in hotels and eating almost every meal in a restaurant.
Camping seemed like the best way for us to maximize our travel money. We talked about a tent, but I’m not a big fan of roughing it. I like something more substantial than nylon between me and the local wildlife while I sleep. We knew we couldn’t afford a new RV, but thought we might be able to find a small, used travel trailer in our budget.
I actually prayed over this. I asked God for help finding a camper. I’m sure people have prayed for stranger things. It did feel a little selfish when there are people praying about real problems like serious illness.
I found a used pop-up camper online at an RV dealer just up the road from us. Despite being 15 years old, it was in great condition and big for a pop-up. Best of all, the price was right. The only problem, it was on hold for someone else who was waiting for financing to come through. The salesman told us we were next in line if it they weren’t approved.
At first I was relieved it wasn’t available. To us it was a big chunk of cash. We weren’t doing the right thing. We should save the money. Buying the camper would be giving up the security of having it in the bank if there was an emergency. I was disappointed too. I’d already imagined sunny days by the beach and cool nights around the campfire.
“Lord, if you don’t want us to have a camper, let the other people’s financing go through. If it doesn’t go through, then I’ll take it as a sign we’re doing the right thing.” You’re probably not supposed to pray like that, but I haven’t been struck by lightning yet.
Well, the other buyer’s financing didn’t go through, and the dealership happily took our cash for the camper.
The rest of the winter I wavered between doubt that we made a good decision and excitement over our first camping trip on Memorial Day weekend.
Before we left last Friday I prayed again, “Lord, thank you for this camper. Let it be a blessing to us. Let it be a way for us to enjoy each other and grow closer as a family.”
It turned out to be one of the best trips the four of us ever took together. It was quiet, relaxed and boys had plenty of space to run and play. They instantly made friends with other kid campers and spent the weekend hanging out with them at the playground. The boys were dirty head-to-toe every night. A sure sign of a good day.
We had fun campfire cooked meals and played board games at night. We went to the beach and waded in the chilly water. We went into the sleepy lake shore town for the afternoon to sight-see and eat ice cream. Everyone slept well in the king size bunks. (I told you it’s big for a pop-up.) In fact, we slept better than when we stay in a hotel. When it was time to go home Monday no one wanted to leave. It was the perfect trip for our two energetic, rowdy boys.
We have a few more sessions of Stout’s Adventure Camp for Unruly Boys planned this summer. We’re traveling all over our great state of Michigan. We’re able to see and do more thanks to our accommodations on wheels. I can’t wait!
I don’t worry anymore. I know we made the right decision, and this camper is a blessing in so many ways.
Saturday night at the campground David asked me, “When I’m a teenager will I still want to camp with you guys?”
“I hope so,” I said. “And if you don’t, it won’t matter. We’ll drag you with us anyway.”