By Will Fifield
FAMILY CAMPING trips are good medicine. plies to the car before our camping trips. That
As a child, the beautiful backcountry, up-close legacy continues with my children, who have
encounters with wildlife, gaudy sunrises and been known to make the same kind of com-sunsets, and amazing solitude were all lost on ments under their breath before we finally hit
me. The major appeal back then was that I saw the road.
a more relaxed, fun-loving side of my parents One reason may have been the equip-when we left civilization and our day-to-day ment. When our children were younger, we all
lives behind us. camped in one really large tent. It was a com-
The memories from those trips endure. To plicated thing with lots of different-size poles,
this day, for instance, my dad tells my wife and funky cords and about 200 pegs.
our five children about the time I thought I had This tent, which a family friend dubbed
come face to face with Sasquatch in Yosemite. the Fifield condominium, reminded me of the
This story and countless others, like aged wine, canvas monster my dad wrestled with on our
come out on special occasions to celebrate the camping trips. It should have come with blue-
special time we spent together as a family. prints. I quickly realized why my dad had
My wife and I are building our own wil- invested in an RV.
derness lore with our children. We live in the Luckily for me, we recently started using
Pacific Northwest, where the threat of rain is a three or four smaller tents, depending on
factor even in August. Consequently, we are car how many family friends join us. This is par-
campers—that is, we drive to campsites that tially because our older children, now teens,
have running water and facilities and set up enjoy a little independence. But it’s also
camp in our assigned spot. because these newer, lighter-weight tents are
It may not sound like the ultimate out- a snap to assemble. I can pitch them in min-
door experience, but we don’t have to travel utes, even in the dark.
very far to experience some of the most beau- These engineering marvels have not only
tiful scenery in the country at these family- made our camping trips more enjoyable,
friendly campsites. they’ve saved me thousands by eliminating
As a child, I remember grumbling as I car- the need to buy an RV.
ried load after load of gear, food and other sup- I’m sure this trend will continue, and in
the future my kids will enjoy even lighter, more
relaxed experiences when they have family
camp outings with their own children.
The Costco Connection
You’ll find a selection of quality camping
gear, including sleeping bags, lanterns,
chairs, five-person tents and camp stoves,
at your local Costco warehouse.
And perhaps, in 30 years or so, I will be the
bivouac bard my father has been.
Although, so far, no one else has seen