Every year, the Smiths have a family reunion. Most years since 2000 it’s been held at Pomona State Park. But I’ve been camping with my family since I was a child. There is nothing that compares with being in my tent or pop-up (the closest I come to sleeping outside) in June, with a chill from the lake effect. No matter how hot it got the day before, early morning almost always requires a blanket pulled up to the chin.
I wake up lazily, listening to birdsong, and insects, and the low hum of voices and laughter of other campers getting ready to start the day. Smoke from last night’s family campfire circle is still on the air, as is coffee, bacon, and eggs, and pancakes cooking at the nearby campsites of the aunts, uncles, cousins, and family friends who’ve been coming to the reunion so long they are family. We eat pannycakes with Granny C. at least once every summer at the lake.
Family reunion days are filled with trips to the swimming beach, rides on boats, or jet skis, fishing at the marina, eating. In the evenings, we have family campfire circle, and laugh at our shared stories — the history of the Smith family. There’s more food: burgers, hotdogs and marshmallows charred over the campfire, s’mores. We admire the stars. Watch the fire. Smell the smoke. Belong to a family.
Visit Love to Know Camping for traditional camp foods, or try some gourmet camp fare from bon appétit’s 25 Campfire Meals to Keep You Well-Fed in the Great Outdoors.
And just in case your ideal version of camping out includes a sing-a-long, Matador Network has compiled a list of the 50 Greatest Campfire Songs of All Time (with a link to a Spotify playlist). For a more traditional list of campfire songs for kids, try this one from The Camping Family, Or this one from Songs for Teaching.