So I mentioned before I have a large family.
I come from a large family. I have five brothers and two sisters myself. My husband has one brother.
One of us was eager for a big family. The other one had to birth them.
The 4th of July is here so I thought I’d share a bit of our camping journey. It may look a little different than camping with your smaller family, but the objective of bringing home fabulous memories is the same. Camping with our kids has been some of our most cherished times over the years.
My husband and I have camped from the beginning of our marriage. We started out tent camping alongside our church’s youth group and we borrowed a pop-up a time or two. We stopped tent camping after 3 kids, because I like myself too much to ever to do that again.
We bought our first camper in 2007. It was an old green and white hard side Wilderness. It had a front dinette that turned into a bed, a small kitchen, four bunks in the middle and a small bathroom in the back. We thought it was the greatest thing we’d ever seen! We took that monster on several trips, even as far as Kentucky! We quickly fell in love with the pack-as-much-as-possible-and-close-the-door model that a hard side camper afforded compared to a pop-up. There was no going back.
After a few years with the green machine, we decided it was time to upgrade a little. Campers can be a little like vehicles. At a certain age you realize if you’re going to sink money in it just to keep it running, you might as well be putting your money into something nicer with less headache. So we sold our first family camper, and the next year bought a a bigger Cherokee. It was a bunkhouse again, only this time the kids had L shaped bunks in a separate room in the back. This camper had the awesome upgrade of a superslide! The couch and dinette were on a slide, opening up the living area so we didn’t feel as cramped. When you’re camping with a lot of kids, especially young ones, one rainy day stuck inside can make or break a vacation! By this time we had six kids under 10 so we were pretty happy to have the wiggle room!
The Cherokee took us on on some grand adventures just like the Wilderness had. We went all the way to St Louis with it! Unfortunately, that was the trip that a large storm came through and took the awning, but that, too, was a memory made! 🙂
This spring we came to another crossroads of camper ownership. Our family has now grown to 10 children, and mechanical things were getting older so my husband convinced me it was time to trade in. Our main objective was to find a camper with a second slide out in the bunk room. We wanted to be able to sleep kids in beds, but also have floor room so that more could sleep in the private rear space. Unfortunately, when we started our search we found that most camper companies that added that slide out took away a bunk and only left three bunks and storage in the room so that they could add the outside kitchen that has become popular. I’m not really sure why they thought that was a good idea, but they certainly didn’t have big families in mind when they did it!
Thankfully, we came across one camper that had not done this. We ended up trading in our Cherokee for a Keystone Cougar Xlite. (Click for a cool video tour.)
To say this camper was built for our family is an understatement! There are very few things I would change about it.
This camper has three slide outs! Not what we were looking for, but it’s great! It slept our whole family comfortably, without even taking down the dinette into a bed. (We only had 11 out of 12 family members on this trip, but I still think we can make it work with us all.) My husband loves the mechanical extras that came with it, like a self-leveling system. It makes set up even faster so we can be in the pool shortly after we arrive! 🙂 It’s very lightweight and pulled easily on our first trip through the mountains to Virginia.
Tomorrow I’ll share how we all fit and stay organized in this amazing thing! See you then!