CAUTION: CRAZY CAMPER LADY AHEAD…

When Atlanta area mom, Jacki Wicker, was raising her son and daughter she was too busy to think about what life would look like when they grew up and moved out. When they flew the coop her initial reaction was, “Whew…done!” Then a little time passed and the reality of her new life sunk in. “Whew…done,” was replaced with, “What now?”

Jacki grew up in rugged South Dakota where her Air Force dad and social worker mother took her and her two younger brothers camping all the time. They tent camped until her dad bought a homemade pop-up trailer that had a big bed for her parents and enough floor space for three sleeping bags.

 

 Although Jacki’s daughter did not grow up camping she is game to start three generation campouts with her mom and daughter, Presley.

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HERE COMES THE SUN

Looking across river to the trees and rocks

Gina was getting her camping legs back at Rocky Mountain National Park in the summer of 2015.

When the fog rolls in it can be hard to see what is right in front of us. Even though our memory tells us where the solid ground is, we find it hard to trust our instincts and it feels as if the fog will never lift. Gina, a native of Ohio, experienced a deep fog when her daughter was assaulted in college. The crime became public fodder and quickly took its toll on the normally happy-go-lucky Gina. A darkness rolled over life as her family had known it and even when justice was served and her daughter regained a healthy footing, Gina struggled to embrace a positive outlook. The ordeal had taken a toll and she found herself hiding from the world. That’s where Gina’s hero husband and the Girl Camping community came to the rescue.

Portrait of RV couple Gina and Chris

Hero Husband Chris hatched a plan to help his wife “camp” her way into a new life!

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LIFE IS JUST A BOWL OF CHERRIES

Cheery Cherry ready to go

 

When Cherry Lewis was growing up in St. Shores, Michigan a neighbor had a big tent they set up in the backyard. The neighbor kids took turns camping in it. Boys only one night and all girls the next. It felt adventurous and the girls sat up at night with their flashlights telling ghost stories and giggling the night away.

 

One night, Cherry recalled, one of the neighbor boys decided to play a trick on the girls. He waited until dark and quietly crept up to the tent and slid his arm under the tent floor and grabbed the leg of one of the girls. Screaming and mayhem ensued. When the boys told the girls the next day that a prisoner had escaped from a local jail, the girls were done. The boys may have managed to secure the tent for themselves for the rest of the summer, but they did not manage to rid Cherry of her love of camping. She recalls this trip as her first “girl camping” outing.

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CHEAPER BY THE DOZEN

When yours, mine and ours converge to create a family of twelve you know that camping is going to be part of the plan. When Gail met Wayne they both brought children into their now 25-year-old marriage. Together over the next two and a half decades they fostered seventy-five children in need of care, eventually adopting four sisters to bring their number of children up to ten – an even dozen in the family.

Life was busy on their small Ohio farm with horses, sheep, alpaca, barns and creeks, and camping with lots of kids! It must have seemed hard to picture the light at the end of the parenting tunnel for Gail. If the truth be told though, she really didn’t want to see it end. But kids grow up despite their mother’s protests and as that dim light at the end of the tunnel began to give off real light, she found herself thinking of ways in which she might fill the gap.

Gail, mother to many and friend to all she meets is the perfect person to act as Camp Host at Beaver Creek.

 

Gail grew up in Ohio but not in a camping family. She had just one sibling, a brother with whom she is still very close to. But Aunt Jean and Uncle Bill generously provided cousin Kaylynn, 9 months younger than Gail, to be a lifelong best friend. Aunt Jean and Uncle Bill were campers and more than happy to take Gail along on all of their adventures. The two cousins loved their campouts and Gail in particular developed a real love for nature.

The camping bug stayed with Gail, and when she and Wayne merged their families, camping became a big part of their lives. Over the years they camped in tents, a pop-up, and travel trailers. The family loved fishing and the outdoors, but none loved it all as much as Gail whose childhood memories with Aunt Jean and Uncle Bill never left her.

While raising her large family on their Ohio hobby farm, Gail honed many skills. For years she has been a fiber artist, a respected teacher and member of many knitting clubs, as well as at one time the host of a podcast on knitting, spinning and dyeing wools. As the kids grew and left home to make their own lives, Gail had more time for her interests.

These hobbies lead her to volunteer as a reenactor of feminine arts at the Beaver Creek State Park Pioneer Village in East Liverpool, Ohio. On the first of every month she dons Colonial garb and sits spinning in the restored log cabin while school children on field trips and families on day outings observe what it took to create a hat or sweater in days gone by. The park became a second home for Gail and Wayne who often fished there in the river that runs through it.

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GO BIG OR GO HOME

When Brewster, NY native Danielle Thompson decided she wanted to be an RVer, she tapped into her “can do” family attitude and dove right in. A CPA by trade in her family’s historic NYC construction business, Civetta and Sons, Danielle is used to “big deals.” She is the third generation to work at the business started by her grandfather that has had a hand in some of the biggest “digs” in NYC, excavating for the buildings that silhouette the Big Apple’s skyline.

Growing up with her older sister and younger brother, she recalls a camper they owned being used more in the backyard as a playhouse than for actual camping. Because of the nature of her dad’s business, summer was always his busy season, so vacations with the whole family became winter ski trips in Vermont and Colorado. Her mom, however, thought nothing of throwing all the kids in the station wagon while dad was working and hitting the road. Whether it was Long Island for a day of discovery, or the family favorite “epic” Niagara Falls their mom had the spirit of adventure that Danielle and her sister and best friend Regina inherited. Danielle credits her mom with instilling in her the feeling that she can “do anything and go anywhere.”

 

The family camper turned playhouse that Danielle and Regina dreamed and played in as girls. 

 

When Danielle had her first baby she began feeling the pressure of motherhood, a career, and being a wife to a golf pro instructor. There was always something that needed to be done and juggling all of her responsibilities left her with “mixed up priorities.” It was then that Danielle picked up camping. She says, “When I was camping I was just in the moment. I didn’t care what was going on at work. I didn’t care what my house looked like – honestly I didn’t even care what I looked like. I was just in the moment. I cared about what I had to eat at the next meal, when I got to nap with my daughter and relax. This is what got me hooked.” Danielle began camping with her sister and her now two kids a couple of times each summer and when she did, she said she was so relaxed that the few days she was able to get away felt like weeks.

 

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