9 VALUES KIDS LEARN ON RV TRIPS
We started RVing when our first two kids were eleven months old because of our dreams for the future. It wasn’t because we had some parenting vision that involved raising our kids at campgrounds and in the great outdoors. We loved travel. We loved road trips. And we wanted to keep having fun in spite of the drastic changes that happened as soon as our twin babies entered the picture. In hindsight, though, we feel so incredibly lucky that we bought our first RV. We didn’t realize it at the time, but it was exactly the right decision to help us raise our kids according to values that have become very important to us as parents.
Even though it wasn’t entirely by design, having an RV allows us to create a life that encourages our boys to grow in many areas that are important to us and develop attributes like patience, creativity, and curiosity. At first, we felt that many of these traits were limited to our actual camping experiences. We would see the boys engage in imaginative play at the campsite in ways that wouldn’t necessarily translate to our backyard. But over the years we have been amazed to watch these traits translate to every area of their lives including school and organized sports. We are so grateful that we stumbled into RV ownership when our kids were itty-bitty babies–their lives will always be better because of it.
Here are nine values that our kids have learned at the campground over the past decade. We are confident that if you take your kids camping, and invest in their lives one RV trip at a time, that they will learn these lessons too.
The Value of Flexibility
Over the years we have watched our kids become masters of getting the lay of the land in each new location that our RV takes us too. They don’t expect every place to be the same. RVing has taught them to find the best things about any new environment and embrace the fun, whether we are camping in the mountains or at the beach.
The Value of Sociability
Our boys will make new friends at a campground within hours of us pulling in. They have no problem striking up conversations with other kids at the playground. They know how to organize games and talk to adults respectfully. Some of these things are more complicated this summer because of coronavirus–but we know that better days are ahead and the value of sociability that they have learned at the campground will last them a lifetime.
The Value of Imaginative Play
RV travel puts our kids in new and different environments where their imaginations can flourish. After we set up camp our kids intuitively head into the woods and find sticks for sword fights, or head to the beach or lake to play in the dunes. Time spent at campgrounds and in the great outdoors has made our kids more creative people.
The Value of Physical Activity
There is no doubt that we have a more active lifestyle when we are on our RV vacations. Sometimes that means climbing a mountain in a stunning national park, and other times that means kicking a soccer ball around our campsite. Either way, RV travel inspires us to get outside and break a sweat every single day.
The Value of Patience
Our boys are normally balls of energy who bounce from one thing to the next all day long. But many parts of our RV travels encourage them to wait patiently for a big payoff. Sometimes that means learning to be patient during long road trips to epic destinations, and other times that means sitting patiently and trying to catch a fish. Either way, we always try to teach them that good things come to those that wait.
The Value of Hard Work
In our family, we always say, “you gotta pay to play.” RV trips are incredibly fun, but let there be no doubt, there is some work involved. From packing to setting up camp, to breaking down camp, everyone needs to pitch in. We try to teach our kids that the work is a necessary part of the fun–and we think that lesson will stick with them.
The Value of Curiosity
We both love to learn new things and we have always wanted our children to be curious people. That might mean catching crayfish down by a stream or finding the best rocks to skip at the beach. Or it might mean learning about the lobster industry in Maine, or the Civil War in Gettysburg. There is something new to learn everywhere our RV takes us.
The Value of Stewardship
Our RV adventures often take us to national parks and other public lands and we have learned to cherish them deeply. We try to teach our children the value of stewardship–the idea that we are all responsible for protecting these magnificent places and we should always leave them better than we found them. If we see trash on the trail we pick it up, and whatever we carry in we make sure to carry out.
The Value of a Family Narrative
We had a lot of adventures when the boys were very young that we assumed they would never remember. But that wasn’t the point to begin with. First of all, we wanted to have fun ourselves. Plus, we figured that we were training them up as our little adventure buddies for the future.
Well, it is shocking to us how much our kids actually do remember about our adventures. Apparently, a lot of these exciting moments have stuck with them. Of course, we are always retelling the highlights of trips again and again throughout the years, but those adventures have become a part of their identities. They think of themselves as explorers and travelers. They expect us to take them to epic destinations. And we are happy to deliver on that expectation year after year.
We hope that you take your kids on epic adventures–and we hope that one day your kids will consider themselves to be travelers and explorers. We are confident in you. We know you can deliver.
Adapted from See You at the Campground: A Guide to Discovering Community, Connection, and a Happier Family in the Great Outdoors by Stephanie and Jeremy Puglisi.