Another Memorial Day has come and gone, and with a salute to those who have given all so that we may enjoy the land of the free, we leap from spring into summer. Like many, our summers typically involve some kind of family vacation. In fact, our summers are usually peppered with trips here and there, some quite elaborate while others just short day trips or weekends away. This summer, though, our vacations will be altered quite a bit. With Rebecca’s wedding coming up this fall, we were already planning on traveling less with just one trip abroad or a small trip or two to visit friends. However, the annual class on energy regulation that my husband teaches every summer in Florence, Italy, has been canceled, and the other trips we planned were to states that are, and may continue to be, on lockdown.
I read an article the other day that said…
This summer will mark the return to small town vacations. It predicted that many Americans will look for “less popular and less crowded destinations.” The article pointed to a recent study which showed that Americans are “craving small-town comfort, beaches and nature vacations, while city trips have drastically decreased in popularity.”
Our family is no exception, and that is why our recent conversations about family vacations for 2020 have taken a nostalgic turn.
When my girls were very little, we didn’t have the opportunities for exotic vacations, and we didn’t want to rent the two hotel rooms that most hotels require for families of five (really, what family with small children wants to separate into two rooms?). Our go-to vacation almost always included a tent for sleeping and a fire for cooking. Even when the girls were older, they loved campgrounds. When Katie and Morgan were in high school and Rebecca was in college, we bought a small camper to take us on a two week exploration of Canada. We weren’t exactly traveling like Samuel de Champlain, but we took our camper all the way up the Canadian Atlantic seacoast making discoveries of our own.
Our camping trips bring to mind some of the absolute best memories, and we often talk about those cherished times when we reminisce about our trips. There was the time our three nephews camped with us, and Ken taught Ty (now a 24-year-old Coast Guard Officer) how to ride Katie’s pink and purple bike. And we love to talk about the time Uncle Pete tried to scare everyone in the Paw Paw Tunnel with a haunting voice coming from the other end of the tunnel. And we can’t forget all those great Halloween camping trips!
My girls learned to paddle on a Girl Scout camping trip, a skill we still love today.
From popping up tents to popping popcorn over a fire, from paddling down rivers to hiking down the Grand Canyon, my girls have grown up camping.
For several years, our family participated in the Maryland Department of Natural Resources Park Quest, an awesome summer-long competition aimed at getting families out of their homes and into the parks. Our team, the Happy Campers, made it into the final competition–a weekend-long series of events ranging from timed tent erecting to paddle races–and came in fifth place overall. Not bad for a mom whose only childhood camping adventure consisted of watching Carol Brady try to fish and sleep in a tent!
Our family is busy plotting and planning our summer camping adventures for Summer 2020. It broke my heart to cancel the annual Girl Scout camp that I run. It’s a second home to all three of my girls who went from first-time Daisy campers to teen program aides to adult counselors there. The good news is, the campground itself will be open for family camping, and this family intends to take advantage of that. We also plan to camp in Western Maryland and on the southern tip of Maryland’s Eastern Shore. We won’t be going far from home or taking a plane to a new destination or even driving cross-country to our beloved Rocky Mountains, but we’ll be spending time in the great outdoors, sleeping under the stars, and enjoying family time together. What more could we want out of a family vacation?
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What I was writing about a year ago this week: Summer Reading 2019.
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Amy Schisler is an award-winning author of both children’s books and sweet, faith-filled romance novels for readers of all ages. She lives with her husband and three daughters on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. Her books, Picture Me, Whispering Vines, and Island of Miracles are all recipients of Illumination Awards, placing them among the top inspirational fiction books of 2015, 2016, and 2017. Whispering Vines was awarded the 2017 LYRA Award for the best romance of 2016. Island of Miracles has outsold all of Amy’s other books worldwide and ranked as high as 600 on Amazon. Her follow up, Island of Promise is a reader favorite. Amy’s children’s book is The Greatest Gift. The suspense novel, Summer’s Squall, and all of Amy’s books, can be found online and in stores. Her latest novel, Island of Promise, was recently awarded First Prize by the Oklahoma Romance Writer’s Association as the best Inspirational Romance of 2018 and was awarded a Gold Medal in the Independent Publisher Book Awards 2019 for Inspirational Fiction. It is the 2019 winner for Best Inspirational Fiction in the RWA Golden Quill Contest, Best Romance in the American Book Awards, and a finalist for the Eric Hoffer Award of Fiction. Amy’s 2019 work, The Devil’s Fortune, a finalist in the Writer’s Digest Self-Publishing Awards and winner of an Illumination Award, is based, in part, on Amy’s family history. The third book of Amy’s Chincoteague Island Trilogy, Island of Hope, was released in August of 2019.
Amy’s books: Crabbing With Granddad (2013), A Place to Call Home (2014), Picture Me (2015), Whispering Vines (2016), Island of Miracles (2017), Stations of the Cross Meditations for Moms (2017), The Greatest Gift (2017), Summer’s Squall (2017), Island of Promise (2018), The Devil’s Fortune (2019), Island of Hope (2019).