easy tent

As the son of two WI public school teachers, my hubby’s spring break vacations included caravaning  from Green Bay, WI all the way to the beaches of Destin, Fl.  Teacher families from Green Bay would spend a glorious week soaking in the rays, playing volleyball on the beach and cooking over the fire. The stories of his childhood vacations are amazing,  but did I mention that they camped… all week? If by chance you envision some cool,  RV type camper camping, think again. Nope, this was the traditional, put up a tent and live in a tent all week type of camping.  Hearing those stories, I marvel because as much I desire camping to be part of our family tapestry, I go for the occasional overnights or weekend get always.
Yes, one week of camping every Spring Break elevates my mother in law to hero status.
One of our “inheritances” when I married into the family was the twenty year old Coleman tent. If I knew how to scan pictures and post them, I would share some of the hysterical memories we’ve had in that beast. Yes….beast, but they are precious memories, non the less.
So often, families go into debt for that perfect family vacation when often, magical memories can be made right around the cornr or even in your own back yard. Now, lest you think I’d turn down a family cruise, you think wrong. There are certain times in your life when a dream vacation is so worth it, especially after dreaming AND saving for awhile, but I can guarantee that a “No spend family vacation” can be equally as memorable. I shared last year how to plan a cheap family vacation without being…cheap.
Well, we did an amazing extended family vacation again, this year  at the beach, and it was amazing. Coleman appreciated how I was committed to creative family time and blessed me with some goodies. Remember how I encouraged everyone to take advantage of some last minute “end of summer time” ideas? We never got around to implementing them since football season snuck up on us, but the kids surely took advantage of it.

coleman air mattress

From spring to fall, our younger ones camp outside no less than ten times. They love to pack up and head outside, and something about the mystery of hanging out with their cousins in the tent just draws them in every time. When they got this Coleman air mattress it was a rainy week, so our sitting room became their humble abode for the next six nights. Yes, they slept on that mattress, by choice, for nearly one straight week and loved every minute of it. (I only slept on it for one night, thank you very much…quite comfortable actually, but you would have thought I was a queen. My daughter was THAT excited I joined her.)

As an adult, it’s so easy to forget about these simple joys. After two nights downstairs, I told them they needed to upstairs and they begged for another evening. I paused and thought, “Why NOT? Why would I be so quick to say no.” I decided to be a “Yes, Mom,” because honestly, why do I feel they have to sleep in their room? This is one of those opportunities where choosing to say “yes” builds relationships, and I am so glad I did.

Coleman tent

As soon as it dried up, I told them I would go outside and help them put the new tent up. Before I could even begin the process, I peaked out the window and the tent was nearly up already. Easy to set up tents are the best invention EVER in the camping world, and it was amazing that they could do it without my help. They had such a sense of accomplishment. 🙂 Even our dog thought this adventure was amazing.


The beauty of raising children who appreciate that the Little Things are the BIG Things is that they help you remember the very truth you are trying to instill in them. Free Fun is the little thing that became a week of BIG things in their hearts.
This little bit of intentionality in our own backyard will be the memories they share with their own children some day.

Have you had any free or nearly free fun lately?