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How to Keep Your Children Close to Your Family

Updated on February 4, 2016
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It is always a difficult thing to keep a family close. People try to keep their families close and fail all the time. My family has always been close. It was never difficult to get them all together. All anyone had to say was camping. When I was a child, my mom and dad would go camping every chance they got. They went on weekends and on their vacations. They didn't have a lot of money and it was not much more to go camping than it was to sit at home. We had yard sales and saved for the equipment. They bought an old camper back before they were self-contained. They had used a tent before that. We got sleeping bags for Christmas and were thrilled. We knew the value of a sleeping bag. They bought good ones with canvas covers in the full adult size. We were taught how to care for them properly and they lasted into our adulthood. A zipper or two were replaced but the quality materials lasted. Now they are lighter and rated for colder conditions but the materials do not last near as long.

We went camping with my dad's brother, sisters, and parents. He had 11 siblings and whichever ones were around and off work would show up. We went camping at Indian Lakes outside Fallon, NV. Most of them lived within a 50 mile radius. It is the Stillwater wildlife refuge and is a string of irrigation lakes connected by canals.

We got into canoeing when we went camping with some friends. They had one. The next week-end, we had a yard sale to get the money for one. We got a Coleman 13 foot canoe first. They have a flotation system built into the front and the back of them. You cannot sink a Coleman canoe. We tried. 14 young adults piled onto a 13 foot canoe and filled it with water in a shallow spot. The front and back could still be seen above water. The aunts and uncles all got some and we would have a flotilla of them.

You can't wiggle in a canoe, it will tip over. If you stand in one, you had better be graceful as heck, if not, you go swimming and everyone else in the canoe with you. My mom always kidded me saying 'It took you all your life to learn to wiggle good, now you have to learn not to.' My sister had a small sailboat that she would sail around the lake. One day, my sister-in-law (Barbara) and my sister were sailing. My mom,dad, and I were canoeing and we met in the middle. We stopped, holding on to the side of the other boat. Barbara decided to throw water at my dad for something he said. He threw water at her and it turned into a water fight. She jumped onto the side of the canoe and it tipped. Somehow, my dad got off the seat of the canoe, and jumped onto the sailboat. We were all laughing because he was fully clothed including leather shoes. He said he jumped because his wallet was in his pocket and he didn't want to get it wet.

We would take a day to follow the canals around from one lake to the next with anyone who wanted to go. We would team the older aunts and uncles with younger paddlers so that we could all go. My sister and I got to paddle around the almost 80 year old uncles. They had fun, we had fun and we all stayed close. It was a fun experience. We got to know some of these old people that we probably wouldn't have gotten to know otherwise. We knew them well.

My aunts were no fragile old ladies. They were from a farming family and had all worked hard all of their lives. Their husbands were pretty much the same. My dad was in the middle of 12. Nine of them were girls. At night, we would light a lantern, hang it from an awning and pile into the canoes. We played hide and seek on the moonless lake, hiding behind reeds and tufts of grass. We hid behind the curves of the bank.The fish would jump and we would get splashed. Then we would spot another canoe and flash them. With the flashlights, of course.

The lake we camped at was remote, undeveloped and was also BLM land. We had cattle foraging in the weeds around the lake all the time. We saw Great Blue Herons, pelicans, and numerous other water birds. We saw owls, falcons, and even eagles while we camped. Fishing was the early morning thing and sometimes late at night. We always brought firewood with us and had a campfire every night. We would circle the self-made fire pit with rocks, so that there was no risk of fire. We always had a bucket of water handy, with plenty more water to be gotten from the lake.

With it being BLM land, we sometimes woke to find our camp was invaded with cattle. My sister's pup tent was used as a scratching post by one mean, old cow. Another time, a part Brahma cow took offense at my aunt's dog that barked and chased them. One aunt was in a cast at the time and using crutches. The other aunt shoved from behind to get her in the door of the camper, shoved the dog in between her feet and jumped into the camper, slamming the door just in time. We all laughed over that story. That old heifer was well known.

Mother's Day was always a family thing. Every year, the Fort Churchill State Park sponsored a canoe trip down the Truckee River to Lahontan Reservoir. We would get in the canoes at Fort Churchill, and with the State Park guides, canoe, portage, and wade to the dam.We would leave about 9:00 and arrive at the dam about 1:00. It was always fun and exhausting for the younger ones of us who went. We wouldn't have missed it for anything. The aunts all went with husbands and some of them were pretty old, in their 70's. They were teamed with younger ones who got the hard work. Sometimes the river wouldn't be deep enough to make it through paddling. We pulled them, wading through the mud in our cheap sneakers. I lost a sneaker once (the mud sucked it off) and it took 20 minutes to find it. I would have left it but there were rocks that we had to cross and in the bottom of the river.. Sometimes, we would have to get everyone out of the canoes and carry them over a sandbar (portaging). We helped each other get them across.

There were also deep parts. We were paddling along one of the deep parts one time when we saw a snake crossing the river. We were watching it from a safe distance but the guys in the kayak wanted to see it better. They paddled up to it and were taking pictures of it. It decided it wanted a break and went up to their kayak. They used the paddle to push it away and it climbed onto the paddle. It slithered up the paddle, which got thrown into the river. The snake then headed back towards them and with one paddle short, they couldn't go. The snake got in, they jumped into the river. The rangers got the snake out, my cousin and I got their paddle, they got back in their kayak and we went on. We laughed and teased them about abandoning ship for a little ol' snake. It was a 4 foot long black snake. Not poisonous but they will bite and hurt when feeling threatened.

My mom and dad are gone now but the memories of this time will never be forgotten. We all had so much fun and got so close to our older relatives. Everyone does not get that chance and regret it. Some only get that chance when they are older and many of the older ones don't make it that long. If you have a family that you want to be close, this is a wonderful way to do it. I will never regret that I got this chance.

Do you enjoy camping with your family?

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Do you go camping with extended family (aunts, uncles, and cousins)?

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Please remember to vote. I really appreciate the comments that I get on my hubs. They help me see if I am writing useful, interesting, informative hubs. If you would like to use information on these, please ask and please attribute. This is copyrighted work.

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    • Becky Katz profile image
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      Becky Katz 5 years ago from Hereford, AZ

      I am so happy that you enjoyed my little story. I love to do things with my kids. They are so much fun and have so much energy. It leads to being close with them. Thank you for coming by to visit.

    • katyzzz profile image

      katyzzz 5 years ago from Sydney, Australia

      Another great story becky and you sure do have a lot of friends. great stuff

    • Becky Katz profile image
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      Becky Katz 5 years ago from Hereford, AZ

      Karen, I love to go camping but we haven't been able to go for several years. My husband is disabled and has problems getting around. Take them camping and I am sure you will all love it. So happy that you came by to visit.

    • Karen Hellier profile image

      Karen Hellier 5 years ago from Georgia

      What a wonderful hub filled with wonderful memories. I used to take my kids camping when they were little. We always went to the same campground till I got divorced and couldn't even afford that anymore. My twins are almost 18 now. Maybe I should take them again this summer before they go off to college. This brought back a lot of great memories. Thanks for writing it.

    • Becky Katz profile image
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      Becky Katz 5 years ago from Hereford, AZ

      The Buffalo River runs not too far from us also. Unfortunately, it is so full of snakes at this part that I am afraid to canoe down it. I am so happy that you enjoyed this.

    • Mr Archer profile image

      Mr Archer 5 years ago from Missouri

      This story put me back in touch with my younger years living in Arkansas. It was there I learned to float the river in a canoe, the Buffalo River. Many floats, with novice and experienced alike. Great memories, and a very good story. Thank you for this post.

    • Becky Katz profile image
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      Becky Katz 5 years ago from Hereford, AZ

      Well, thank you Thomas. I seem to be the reader for everyone. I have made some wonderful friends here on hubpages. The people here are so friendly and welcoming.

      Staying close to our children is the most important thing that we can do for them. I love to be around mine and I believe they love to be around us. The two who don't live here are over at least every other day. They just drop in for 15-20 minutes and spend some time talking to dad and mom. I am hoping we can keep that up for the youngest. She is 15 now and so far, doing well. I am so sorry to hear about your youngest having problems.

    • ThomasBaker profile image

      ThomasBaker 5 years ago from Florida

      I have two older children in their 30's and a younger son born 10 years after. I was, and still am, very close to my older children. We did many, many fun family things together. When my younger son was about 4 years old, I was given a job traveling to South America and was not able to give him the attention he really needed. My older children are successful in life, but my younger son is an addict and homeless most of the time. I can't agree with you more on how important it is to have a close family. From reading your comments and articles on Hub Pages I can tell you how much everyone respects you. I feel the same way.

    • Becky Katz profile image
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      Becky Katz 5 years ago from Hereford, AZ

      jimmar, I bet that was a wonderful trip. We spent many many weekends canoeing on our favorite lakes and down the connecting canals. We would sneak up on the wildlife and take pictures in that game refuge and just enjoy the scenery. I hope you get to go again soon. Thank you for coming by to visit.

    • jimmar profile image

      jimmar 5 years ago from Michigan

      One of my most cherished memories is canoeing/camping/fishing with my son for a week in Quetico Provical Park (Canadian canoe wilderness)It was wonderful to see how he had grown to appreciate the scenery, solitude and the whole experiece. It was no longer JUST about catching fish.

    • Becky Katz profile image
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      Becky Katz 5 years ago from Hereford, AZ

      sgbrown, camping is a lot of fun and our grandkids love it. We never stopped camping. It was easier when we could let the kids go swimming by themselves and didn't have to go in with them. Now we don't have to go in with the grandkids but they are nagging to go in the water as soon as their eyes open. Joking there. Really appreciate you coming by to visit.

    • sgbrown profile image

      Sheila Brown 5 years ago from Southern Oklahoma

      Great hub! Camping is such a great family activity. We went camping alot when our kids were little. Now our kids all have kids and I plan on starting it all over again. Thank you for sharing your family story, it's wonderful! Have a great day! :)

    • Becky Katz profile image
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      Becky Katz 5 years ago from Hereford, AZ

      teaches12345, I am glad you enjoyed the snake story. That is one of my favorites also. To me, canoeing down a river is not adventurous, it is just fun. I wish I could be out there right now. We had such a good time. Thank you for coming by to visit.

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 5 years ago

      Becky, your story was a good read and I enjoyed the snake story. I can just imagine the hooping and yelling that went on during the event. Your family is quite adventurous and that makes for a good time. Thanks for sharing.

    • Becky Katz profile image
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      Becky Katz 5 years ago from Hereford, AZ

      itsmonkeyboy, The best way to keep your family close emotionally, is to have fun with them. This was always a good way to get our family together. We would put the word out that we were going, even after we were all grown, and everyone that could, would show up. Multi-generational, aunt, uncles and grandparents would show along with the teens and young marrieds. We ended up with 50-60 people out there quite often. I have great memories of all of them and the great fun we had. I am glad that I have inspired you to get out there and enjoy our beautiful country. Thanks for coming by to visit.

    • itsmonkeyboy profile image

      itsmonkeyboy 5 years ago from London, UK

      Hi Becky Katz, great hub. I used to camp a lot when I was young and as a scout we used to canoe a lot as well. Now with a family of my own you've given me some inspiration to get them out there and back in the wilds like I was when young, it can be so much fun and leave some amazing memories. Thank you for sharing yours with us.

    • Becky Katz profile image
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      Becky Katz 6 years ago from Hereford, AZ

      When my mom died in NV, I let my sister keep the 2 that we had. I didn't want to try hauling one clear across the country to TN. We don't go out canoeing much here and there are tons of rental places here. She lives about 5 miles from our favorite canoeing lake.

    • profile image

      ThomasRydder 6 years ago

      Don't know if they sell them or not, but my brother still has one he bought 25 years ago and uses to this day. It's a sad thing when families spread to different states and loose contact. The older generations that kept it all intact leave us, and the rest are too busy to be troubled. So we make new families...like the one on here, hmmm?

    • Becky Katz profile image
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      Becky Katz 6 years ago from Hereford, AZ

      Thomas, I seem to find you everywhere these days. I love it. Coleman canoes didn't cost as much as most canoes but they sure were the tops as far as I was concerned. Do they still sell them? I haven't seen them around in this half of the States. I have gone to some big sporting goods stores in Nashville and didn't even see one there. Glad I could bring memories back for you. Maybe you should try to get close again.

    • profile image

      ThomasRydder 6 years ago

      I remember Coleman canoes...you couldn't do much better than those :) Written with skill an insight, Becky...and brings back memories to me of a time when my family was close. Not camping, but so many other ways. Thanks much!!

    • Becky Katz profile image
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      Becky Katz 6 years ago from Hereford, AZ

      Always Optimist, I hope that you get a chance to do these things. They are so much fun and it is so relaxing to just glide along on the water. Canoeing is also very good for your health being good exercise. Fishing is relaxing and so exciting when you catch one. They taste wonderful cooked on a fire right there where they are the freshest.

    • Always Optimist profile image

      Always Optimist 6 years ago from India

      Very nicely written hub.. though i live in delhi which dont have anything where we can do water sport or do anything with water, but i would love to canoe and fish some day

    • Becky Katz profile image
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      Becky Katz 6 years ago from Hereford, AZ

      Vinaya, Thank you for stopping by and reading. Those were wonderful times that I will never forget. Camping with my parents, aunts, uncles and grandparents made us closer. I am happy you enjoyed this.

    • Vinaya Ghimire profile image

      Vinaya Ghimire 6 years ago from Nepal

      I have done hiking and camping. Actually these two things are my favorite activities. I'm happy that you shared your experience and point of view.

    • Becky Katz profile image
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      Becky Katz 6 years ago from Hereford, AZ

      Hi Mike,Happy to see you here. It was generally not too quiet on the canals because there were several canoes full of people talking and laughing. It got quiet out on the lake when the water was glass smooth, the sun was dropping and the birds were heading to their nests. Mornings were just as calm and peaceful. Thank you for your beautiful comment.

      Ian, you made it. Of course, it was the cow. My aunt would have swatted me if I called her an old heifer. They didn't prevent the snake from boarding, they just tried. They were the ones who abandoned ship. We were all so busy laughing at them, we couldn't have taken a picture. My good camera didn't go on trips like that. It cost too much to risk drowning it. I usually took a cheap 35 mm and it didn't take the greatest pictures. That was back before disposables. Thanks for coming by and reading.

    • Twilight Lawns profile image

      Twilight Lawns 6 years ago from Norbury-sur-Mer, Surrey, England. U.K.

      You're doing just fine. Becky. I loved the bit about the snake. Shame they were too busy preventing him from getting on board. it would have been nice to see some pictures of him. And when you talked about the "old heifer" did you mean your Aunt or the cow? Just checking.

    • mckbirdbks profile image

      mckbirdbks 6 years ago from Emerald Wells, Just off the crossroads,Texas

      Hello Becky, you have shared some very special memories here today. What a treat to idly float down a quiet canal in a canoe of your memories. Thank you.

    • Becky Katz profile image
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      Becky Katz 6 years ago from Hereford, AZ

      Sunnie, Happy you could take the time to read. I miss these days. Can't do it now. Dennis can't handle it.

    • profile image

      Sunnie Day 6 years ago

      Dear Becky What a wonderful hub full of beautiful memories. Nothing can ever compare to camping with your family. I have many memories just like this..Thank you for sharing and as always I am running behind..

      Love Sunnie

    • Becky Katz profile image
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      Becky Katz 6 years ago from Hereford, AZ

      Marcoujor, Thank you for coming by for a story. I am convinced that those times are not gone, they just got lost for a while. I am doing my best to bring them back. I never did let my children get out of having fun with us either.

    • marcoujor profile image

      Maria Jordan 6 years ago from Jeffersonville PA

      Becky,

      It is beautiful and heartwarming to read your story of simple and traditional values, when a family really enjoyed spending quality time together.

      Love this and having you on HubPages- voted UP & UABI, mar.

    • Becky Katz profile image
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      Becky Katz 6 years ago from Hereford, AZ

      Charlotte, Thank you for reading my story. I really had fun when I was a young girl hanging out with my family. I wish all kids could have as much fun with their families.

    • Charlotte B Plum profile image

      Charlotte B Plum 6 years ago

      sweet memories, and funny stories too! thank you for sharing them with us, i really enjoyed them as I don't have much chance to be close to nature.

    • Becky Katz profile image
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      Becky Katz 6 years ago from Hereford, AZ

      Hi always, Happy you liked. I love to camp also. Cooing in an open camp fire also makes the food taste so good. I think it is because we play so hard and then are sooo hungry, anything tastes good.

    • always exploring profile image

      Ruby Jean Fuller 6 years ago from Southern Illinois

      This is a great story Becky. I used to camp every weekend when i was with my Son's Father. We had a ball, swimmig, fishing, canoeing, we always had other family members go with us. We cooked on a grill, the best food in the whole wide world. Thank's for the pleasant trek down memory lane..... Cheers

    • Becky Katz profile image
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      Becky Katz 6 years ago from Hereford, AZ

      Will, thank you for coming by and leaving such a great comment. I think that fun activities with your kids help families stay close. All of the comments have just shown that I am right.

      I am happy that you are staying close with your children.

    • WillStarr profile image

      WillStarr 6 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      I bought a van in the 60's and converted it into a camper. We went out as often as possible and all of my children still love the outdoors. In fact, my oldest son and his wife spent last weekend up on the Mogollon (pronounced: muggy-on) Rim here in Arizona, near the Woods Canyon Lake Dusty mentioned.

      My youngest son and I went to a gun show on Saturday.

    • Becky Katz profile image
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      Becky Katz 6 years ago from Hereford, AZ

      I live in Dickson, about an hour west of Nashville. I have been on the Buffalo River but was so busy watching the rattlesnakes, cottonmouths and copperheads that I didn't have much fun. Section I lived by was full of snakes. Don't let the inexperienced person in the back unless you want to go in circles.

      We don't get to go much anywhere because my husband can't do it. That and expenses. We don't even have the stuff to go camping anymore. Got rid of it when we couldn't go. Also lost the taste for it when we lived like that for about 3 years. Lived too rough for too long.

    • 50 Caliber profile image

      50 Caliber 6 years ago from Arizona

      Where in Tn? My brother is in Adamsville, near Savanna, and we canoed on the Buffalo river, I think was the name. It was a half day trip on a Saturday and I was there with my dad for one of his brothers funeral. He didn't go with us but I had a cousin that went with me in one canoe and my brother and his wife in another, and there were a number of others but it wasn't so packed that you couldn't be on stretches alone. I enjoyed it. Had a few portages and used the paddle as a crutch to get me across them after taking off my leg and roping it to a center brace, because my front paddler wasn't a canoe savvy person we turned over and then there was my brother who started a turn over war, it was fun, dust

    • Becky Katz profile image
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      Becky Katz 6 years ago from Hereford, AZ

      We always went to a wildlife refuge to camp. It was so peaceful and no motors on the lake we went to. One of the bigger lakes in the string allowed motors. We would just jump off the canoe when we got too hot and tow it to where we could get back in it. The wildlife there was absolutely awesome. It is in Northern NV though and I am in TN. They have lots of rivers, creeks, and streams here but I haven't found a place I even want to go. Too many people.

    • 50 Caliber profile image

      50 Caliber 6 years ago from Arizona

      I'm an hour from water and my big white water canoe really needs traded for a smaller one, but I tow a 17 ft. 40 horse aluminum with a center right hand pilot seat and live well and other goodies like a 55 ft pound trolling motor and plenty of room for the dogs, they like high speed 35 mph [all it can do] rides across lake Roosevelt and stopping off so they can swim a bit. If it weren't for pending thunderstorms the 95 degree cloud cover would make today a great day to go, I just don't want to load up and get bait, drive two hours and get run off the water from lightening, bummer.

      I do like you love the quiet early mornings on the water and Woods Canyon Lake here in northern Az. is great for that and camping after the kids are back in school the congestion drops off a lot.

      Peace,

      dust

    • Becky Katz profile image
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      Becky Katz 6 years ago from Hereford, AZ

      Dusty, I really miss canoeing but there is no place here that I want to go canoeing. I used to go out on the lake all by myself at dawn and watch the birds come out. It was so peaceful out there by myself. On a lake, I can handle by myself. Or on a canal. I can't handle whitewater by myself.

    • 50 Caliber profile image

      50 Caliber 6 years ago from Arizona

      Becky great telling of family adventure. I had to vote it up all the way. Camping was what was affordable for my dad and at vacation time that was what we did. He taught me much about living in the backwoods as a kid. I got into canoeing in the early 80s and bought an LL Bean 21 foot white water canoe that was 38 inches at center width from gunnel to gunnel, making it relatively more stable than a standard canoe. I later bout a side mount to hold an 8 horse out board so when I couldn't round up a front man to paddle I could still go out. I grew up on the Gila River but the only thing we could afford were inner tubes from truck tires, so we did a lot of floating. My dad or some one elses parent would drive us 15 miles up river to the Duboise bridge and we'd jump off with our tubes and float back to the footbridge just below town and walk home. It was a 3 hour float but many places to play and we would stretch it out to 6 or 7 hours, much fun, thanks for churning the thinker!

      Peace,

      dust

    • Becky Katz profile image
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      Becky Katz 6 years ago from Hereford, AZ

      Ghost, Glad you approved. My family was large, boisterous and plentiful. Never give you a chance to be lonely. They would hunt you down to include you in. I did enjoy paddling the old folks around on the lake. We would talk and get to know each other. They were a lot of fun.

    • profile image

      Ghost32 6 years ago

      Wow. Sort of "Waltons on the Water".

      We had nothing like that. I never knew any 80-year-old uncles, or even heard of such a thing, except that my late Dad's two surviving brothers are headed that way as we speak.

      There were a few camping trips, each one rare and precious for sure, but no major family things. One Boy Scout Jamboree for several days, a two nighter with my younger uncle, and a few others.

      When I get "drawn close" to people, it's usually more or less by accident and in spite of myself--except for my mate. Whenever there have been large gatherings, family or otherwise, my tendency has been to slip away, to escape, alone on my own.

      Mountain man all the way.

      I even prefer camping alone, working alone on night shift whether at the computer or out in a truck in the oilpatch, wherever.

      On field trips, I'd "disappear" for a while, sneak up a timbered ridge, climb an 80-foot tree (there's your 80, I guess), and slip back in time to catch the train.

      Voted up and across.

    • Becky Katz profile image
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      Becky Katz 6 years ago from Hereford, AZ

      slattery, I am so happy that you choose this great American past time. Invite your older relatives along. The memories you all make as you get to know them better can not be beat.

      Rosemay, Happy you enjoyed. We made many trips down rivers, canoes and creeks. They were all fun and we had many adventures. The snake was funny, watching those young, macho guys jumping overboard.

      Hyphen, How are you? Drawing people closer should be our goal in life. We got to know our family like they were our friends. I loved them even more because I knew WHO they were. Sitting around the camp fire, just talking was usually quite entertaining also. They were a wild bunch.

    • Hyphenbird profile image

      Brenda Barnes 6 years ago from America-Broken But Still Beautiful

      Camping is indeed a great way to draw people closer. Anything out in nature away from TV, computers, phones and the like help us focus on each other. And nature's beauty allows for relaxation and peaceful conversation. Becky, this is a wonderful Hub. Thanks for sharing your memories with us.

    • Rosemay50 profile image

      Rosemary Sadler 6 years ago from Hawkes Bay - NewZealand

      What wonderful stories and wonderful memories you have Becky. I laughed all the way through.

      Its trips like that that mesh a family together and the older ones would have enjoyed spending time with the younger ones and probably passed down stories of their own.

      The stories about the snake and the cows were so funny.

      I enjoyed this from begining to end

      Thank you for sharing Becky.

    • slaffery profile image

      slaffery 6 years ago from Kansas, USA

      My husband and I for the last three years have taken our kids camping and boating. We do this habitually every weekend and most holidays. Our camping seasons is April through October although April and October it depends on the weather. This is the first summer in three years that we were not camping do to my husband's back injury. Next summer we will be back out there as my children also enjoy it and it brings us very close. I loved this hub and thanks for sharing it. Voted up and awesome