“Hey mom, remember that time you got the blue fish stuck in your hair?” Kaleb, my son, recently asked. He was remembering one of our numerous camping trips I use to take my two boys on.
For the record it was a tiny crayfish that got swept up in my long hair when I tried to wash it in a stream during one of our rustic camping adventures. For those of you who don’t know, “rustic” in the camping world pretty much means no facilities and left to the wilds. When I was a single mother raising two young boys it was the easiest and most inexpensive way to keep their endless energy in check and occupied, go on an inexpensive vacation, and in my case because I freelance for a living often work in a few articles along the way to make some money.
We’ve probably camped in most of the lower 48 at some time or other doing everything from attending an international peace gathering in New Mexico to visiting one of the first known sites of human existence in America. Bet you didn’t know that’s in Meadowcroft, Pennsylvania. Along the way we’ve listened to hundreds of books on tape, roasted our share of marshmallows, and seen sites we just never would have dreamed of in the city. Like the time butterflies landed in our hands or our camera (the old film kind) captured magic coming out of our fingers when we did a silly dance by the fire at dusk.
While we may have traveled all over the country some of the best camping is right here in our own backyard. Steuben County is the perfect place to capture your camping bliss and reconnect with your family in ways you just can’t when everyone is going their own way or buried in their electronic gadgets.
I’ve set up the tent here at the lake many times for my foster kids. You’d be surprised what an evening under the stars does to take away the anxiety of a little one away from mom and dad. But if you’re not fortunate enough to have a beautiful lake, you’re welcome to borrow one of ours for a night or a few weeks.
Pokagon State Park is known for it’s great camping from rustic to RV hook ups to cabins. Now its sister park, Trine Recreational Area just across the road also has great camping with some beautifully restored cabins. There are also some other great choices such as Circle B on Hogback Lake, Manapogo on Pleasant Lake, Buck Lake Ranch hosts the annual renaissance fair, Lake Luther has a summer camp for kids, Fish Lake Family Resort, and Yogi Bear’s Jellystone Park, which has a state-of-the-art water park! Of course those are just a few of the many, many campgrounds in Steuben county. They all have countless camp activities and events in addition to primitive and modern camping sites.
Oh, and by the way, for a kid that supposedly hated camping so much, Kaleb is now working at Jellystone as a lifeguard! So don’t worry about the groans and moans when your kids it’s time to go camping. Years from now they will thank you.
Erika Celeste is an award-winning journalist who has worked in radio, print, television, and marketing. She owns and operates New Moon Media Group where she’s written several documentaries and books.