Featured Local Business

Most Read: Parent Tips

A Salute to Special Olympics

Last December Cierra Winn swept her long chestnut hair over ... Read more

Changing for the Better

Early on a recent Sunday morning near Kids’ Cove at Mo... Read more

Growing Up Gardening

Finding time to play outside is a challenge for today’... Read more

Getting Better with Art

The inpatient playroom at the Children’s Hospital of the Kin... Read more

Doulas on Duty

You’re a few months along in your pregnancy and beginn... Read more

My Mentor, My Friend

Kids need adult role models to look up to and trust. Parents... Read more

Set Sail with Sea Scouts

Something exciting is happening in Tidewater. Here, where th... Read more

Kiddies & Kitties

There is nothing so heartwarming as when a family visits an ... Read more

A Gift of Life

At the age of five, Shutong Hao (“Tong Tong”) had already un... Read more

A Heart for Kids

After a successful battle with cervical cancer, Tracy LaGatt... Read more

Connecting with Horses

In this more-than-one-horse town, kids and adults take pleas... Read more

Eating on a Budget

Get the most for your food budget! There are many ways to sa... Read more

Tips for Kids Dining Out

Going out to eat with your children should be a relaxing and... Read more

Sea and Sky

Dear Friends, I was lucky to grow up on the shores of Sandb... Read more

Is Your Child on Track?

From birth to 5 years, your child should reach milestones in... Read more

The World Can Wait

Parents have it rough these days. So much to do. So little t... Read more

Hit the Pause Button: Read

One of my favorite photographs is a picture of my mom readin... Read more

Explore the World with NATO

When NATO Festival organizers realized Luxembourg would be t... Read more

Learning from WHRO

When my oldest was six, he came to me with a cape and a pict... Read more

Parenting with No Regrets

My son just turned 18, so he is no longer legally a child. I... Read more

2015 Jun

A Warm Glow

Dear Friends,

People seem to either love camping or hate it. I know quite a few women, for example, who won’t go near a tent or even an RV, for that matter. I wonder if they’ve ever tried camping. Personally, I can’t think of a better way to be in the moment than spending the night surrounded by nature. Where else can the sounds of an owl hooting in the treetops or a rushing stream serenade you to sleep?

I didn’t grow up in a camping family. Instead, I discovered camping during college when friends and I would set up tents at a place called Phred’s Pharm in Southwest Virginia. I can still recall how tranquil it was there in the woods with the silent mountains all around. We left tests and term papers behind and found time to be ourselves.

One summer when I was in my 20s, I traveled through Europe with a friend. We carried everything we needed in our backpacks. I remember camping in Switzerland above the town of Montreux near a cold mountain stream. In the morning golden sunlight illuminated the storybook landscape, and every tree, every leaf seemed to glow. After splashing cold water in our faces, my friend and I made coffee and sat by the campfire. I don’t remember what we had for breakfast, but I’m sure it was delicious.

Food always tastes better when you’re camping. Maybe it’s because you’re more active and therefore hungrier. I’ve also heard that when you’re out in nature, you inhale more negative ions—electrically charged particles—and these can make your appetite increase. Plus there’s something about cooking on a campfire that connects us with our ancestors: the warmth from the flames, the smell of charred food, the crackles and hissing sounds the fire makes.

I remember when Peter and I took our kids camping when they were little. After we set up the tents, we’d go hunt for twigs and sticks to start a fire. Soon the flames would catch, and a warm glow would envelop us—maybe a little wood smoke, too. We’d start cooking dinner—perhaps some brats and corn on the cob and a salad from home. Whatever we ate always tasted twice as good—almost like a little magic fairy came along and sprinkled our food with fairy dust to make it taste better.

Peter and I always brought along a blow-up mattress, but our boys didn’t mind sleeping on the ground. We’d snuggle under sleeping bags, warm as we could be, and drift off into peaceful slumber.

Later Peter and I graduated to RV camping—a real bed! We camped a lot when our kids were young, not just up and down the East Coast but also for a few wonderful months in Europe. I miss camping, but one day I know we’ll sleep with the owls once again.

Plan a camping trip soon—even in your backyard. Make s’mores, sing songs, tell stories, and have real conversations with your kids. One more thing: leave your cell phones behind and disconnect for a change. You’ll be glad you did.

Happy Summer! 

Love, Peggy

Peggy Sijswerda

Peggy Sijswerda is the editor and co-publisher of Tidewater Family and Tidewater Women magazines. She has an MFA in creative nonfiction from Old Dominion University and is the author of Still Life with Sierra, a travel memoir. Peggy also freelances for a variety of regional, national, and international magazines.

Website: www.peggysijswerda.com