Cool mornings, sunshine filled afternoons, and brief thunderstorms, combined this past weekend to create perfect weather and one of the the best camping trips we’ve had in years. Saturday morning, we loaded the truck and headed to the Sitgreaves National Forest for our Annual Family Camping Trip. My family has been meeting at Woods Canyon Lake every summer for over 20 years now. We’ve grown from the original crew of 10 people, into a crowd that can range from 25 – 35 or more people depending on the year’s events.
With 5 brothers and 2 sisters, (plus all of the extended family attached to each of us), a summer camping trip is our way of making sure we are all in the same place at least once every year. Our children range from newborn to 23 years old. Nothing makes my mom happier than when all of her children and grandchildren are within shouting distance.
The kids build forts every year, and run their legs off from sunrise to dark. The adults play countless board games, fish, hike, chase children, and laugh enough to make our sides hurt. The hiking trails around Woods Canyon Lake are excellent and the Mogollon Rim is a brief hike from our group site. My sisters and I spent one morning hiking out to the rim and then wandering on the trails.
The older kids love the independence and adventure of walking down to the lake without the adults and then wandering back up to the campsite through the forest. We set up a volleyball net first thing and there is usually a game or two played in the morning and in the afternoon. The little ones bring dump trucks and shovels for digging, plenty of balls to kick and throw, finger paints were a fun addition this year as well.
We spend our nights chatting around the campfire or playing cards and board games around the tables. Flicking june bugs away is a rite of passage for the older kids that want to stay up late with the adults. Those massive (and horribly annoying bugs) have been known to scare off the less brave teenagers.
Sleeping in a tent might not be my favorite thing, but I wouldn’t trade my family campouts for a fancy hotel. Waking to the sounds of the forest, starting the water for coffee in the early morning light, chatting quietly with the first people to wake and stumble from their tents, all of it combines for an experience that can’t be found outside of nature.
You can follow along on our travel adventures as they happen all year long if you are on Instagram! Want a peek at some of our favorite camping foods and prior camping trips?