I am usually a hotel girl. I grew up camping all over California, though, and my parents still camp regularly. So when we planned a trip to visit them, we decided to include a few days of roughing it at Doheny Beach.
As much as a luxurious stay at a resort would have been amazing, this trip was wonderful in other ways. The simplicity of camping, the togetherness it creates, and the beauty of living at the ocean all day made for memories that will last a lifetime.
Here are my ten favorite things about camping at the beach:
10. No TV or computer. For four days, I didn’t get asked once to watch a movie, play video games, or do any other mindless media activity. We played plenty of games, took walks, and chatted over the fire. It was divine.
9. Hot cocoa becomes a refuge. There is a good deal of discomfort in chilly mornings, sandy clothes, and sunburned skin. But the simple pleasure of a mug full of warm chocolate makes it all better- especially when Grandma makes it.
8. Showers become overrated. There were showers at the camp, and we did use them. Immediately after those showers, our feet were dirty and sandy again, and every night we crawled into slightly sandy sleeping bags, so we never felt completely clean. Amazingly, this didn’t matter one bit. We got used to being a little gritty, and I can’t emphasize enough the joy of leaving vanity behind.
7. Critters entertained us often. Seagulls and pelicans flew through the air, squirrels ran around the campground, we met lots of sweet dogs that other campers brought with themn, and lizards scurried across the walkways. My children love animals, and we got a front-row seat to see them in action.
6. Boys get to burn stuff in the fire. All it took was one paper plate that Grandpa threw in the fire, and the joy of watching things catch flame and turn to ash became the coolest experience ever. There is no place boys get to be boys as much as at a campsite, and mine certainly loved the experience.
5. Reading on the beach. I grabbed The Secret Garden on my way out the door when we headed to the airport. I’m not sure if it is the sound of the ocean, the feel of sand between my toes, or the cozy spot I created under an umbrella, but reading on the beach causes sunshine to pour into my heart.
4. Life at camp is slow. Our days are usually moving at break-kneck speed. Some of our vacations have been a little too fast-paced as well. Camping is slow, though. There is time to think, pull out dominoes to play at a picnic table, sit and stare at the ocean, and just be. There is no agenda or list of tasks to accomplish, and it is glorious.
3. There are tons of kids to play with. You know who likes to camp? Families like us. My children constantly found other little people to play with. Because everyone was living outside, the kids just ran around and played all day.
2. Falling asleep to the sound of the waves crashing. Laying there each night was so delicious for the soul, I will savor it for months. There is no more fabulous way to drift off to dreamland.
1. Everything is not tailored to your comfort. Extra-superior comfort is usually my favorite part of vacationing. But as I watched my family draw close together and savor one another when we had to overcome the discomfort of camping, I realized that there is great treasure to be mined from the camping experience. The message we sent our children by choosing to camp was this: being together is the most important thing. I will be forever grateful for the chance to do it, and I know this won’t be the last time we set up camp and huddle together around the fire.