Wednesday, October 14, 2015
Halloween Camping, A Family Tradition
Five years ago we were lucky enough to stumble upon an event at a nearby state park that has become a family tradition, Halloween Camping Weekend. Some parks call them harvest festivals, but whatever they are called, they are a wonderful chance to get your kids out in nature and make family memories to last a lifetime. Many state parks in Michigan hold them, and I would bet other states do as well.
And the best part of Halloween Camping Weekend is that it isn't on Halloween! It is always before, so our children still have the chance to visit neighbors and see friends. It's like Halloween times two!
The first year we went, we were the "newbies." Many families had already been doing this camping weekend for years. We decorated our site, but it paled in comparison to many. People go all out decorating. And there were lots of family activities to keep the kids busy, from games to a costume contest and parade. There were hay rides, hot dog roast, and trick or treating. We had entered the magical world of Halloween camping!!
We had so much fun on that camping trip and our son BEGGED us to go again, so of course we had to go back the next year, this time with his new baby brother, Again our son wanted to be a pirate, so I glued feathers to a jacket to make his baby brother a parrot. We also tried to step up our decorations. This was the year costumes started becoming important to my oldest. Someday, he wanted to win a ribbon at the costume contest. We also invited friends to our campsite to "hang out" and enjoy the fun. And even though it rained a lot of the time, there were still smiles on every face.
Once again our oldest begged to go Halloween camping.... I think by year three we accepted this as a tradition. What would life be without this trip each year? We decorated like crazy. And this was the year our oldest, ummm, I mean Uncle Si, won a ribbon at the costume contest!! Our littlest was big enough to start enjoying the activities, but the rain.... it was becoming tradition too. Our friends came (I guess they are gluttons for bad weather too) and we tried our best to enjoy ourselves.
Year four rolled around and of course I already had our campsite booked, since they fill months in advance for this magical weekend. It was going to be an epic year! We had enough decorations to be noticed, our kids were costumed out as zombie brothers. Well the oldest wanted to be a zombie and the littlest just wanted to do what his brother was doing. Our friends were meeting us again. It was time for fun!!!
That is until the truck blew up on the way to the state park. There would be no camping, decorations, no happiness in Halloween Who-vill. After getting the truck and camper towed home, the oldest country kid was beside himself. Miss Halloween camping?!?! It was unthinkable! So the next day we drove to our empty site, ate crappy food, and participated the best we could. It was so cold and wet, our littlest and I spent the majority of the time sitting in the car drinking coco. Was this the end of Halloween Camping!?!?!
By now it was an accept part of the rhythm of our lives that in October we would camp. It was tradition! But the truck had literally died beyond repair. Our family was surviving on just one vehicle that my hubby took to work everyday...... Time passed and October was creeping closer. We were all trying to accept that this year would be the year we totally missed Halloween Camping Weekend.....
And then my hubby got a bug up his butt and we bought a new vehicle.... a truck..... a big truck that was totally capable of pulling our camper. But sites book up so far in advance, was there any chance... I got online for the state park reservation site and there was one, just ONE site left. Talk about a Halloween miracle!!!
And the miracles just seemed to continue this year.... The sun shone!!! It wasn't freezing!! We actually got a hay ride (the line normally was so long, we had never gone.) The kids didn't fight, they actually played the games together at the kids' area. There were smiles, candy, costumes and good times with friends. We didn't decorate big, neither of the boys won a ribbon for their costumes, but it was the best year ever!
I think this year, when we gave up on trying to decorate big, win ribbons, and just focused on the fun, everything came together. It no longer felt like something we had to do for our children (like last year) but something we really WANTED to do for the whole family. And I can honestly say, some day when the boys are grown.... I might just have to keep the tradition alive. There is just something about camping in the fall that makes the world right.
Maybe camping isn't your thing, but why not a yearly trip to a cider mill or pumpkin patch? There is just something about fun family traditions that make memories you will all enjoy for the rest of your lives. But remember they should be fun! Don't get competitive or try to "go big." Heck, even when things go wrong, there are memories that one day you will look back on and laugh about. Maybe many years from now, but you will laugh.