Greetings from our home base in western Pennsylvania! If you are here, you must love camping, RVing, and travel as much as we do! We are so glad you stopped by and we’d like to take a minute to introduce ourselves.
We’re Jarrett and Kristin, two 30-something college sweethearts living the American dream as an educator and writer. I, Kristin, was 19 years old when I went camping in a tent for just the second time in my life. My dad, a pilot with free flying perks, and I flew out to Virginia to spend the weekend with Jarrett, who was working that summer as a Boy Scout camp counselor. We packed tents and sleeping bags into suitcases and then hopped a flight. It was a whirlwind weekend, but I came home starry-eyed … and covered in about a dozen mosquito bites. Later my dad told me he knew then that I was falling hard for the guy who would eventually put a ring on my finger because I actually slept in a tent. On the hard ground. Covered in mosquito bites.
But let me first back up a bit: I was raised in a fairly average middle-class family where vacations consisted of beach condos, and “roughing it” was staying at the Super 8. My dad and brother went on numerous Boy Scout camping trips, but their stories of sly skunks and creaky cots were enough to turn the rest of the family off to the idea of camping.
Around my 10th birthday, however, I got my first taste of “camping” when I went off to Girl Scout camp. I’ll never forget the moment I set eyes on the raised platform tent where I was to spend a whole week: My parents and I had to walk past a row of neat, new tents only to discover the sagging and patchwork tent where I was to stay. There were serious discussions about whether the thing was actually water-tight anymore.
And in hindsight, that musty, old tent should have been my first clue about how the week would progress. As I watched my parents leave, I gulped back hot tears of homesickness and resisted the urge to run after them and beg them not to leave me in that tent. It’s probably fortunate that this was the era BEFORE cell phones were a thing, because I can assure you I WOULD have been that kid pulling out the contraband electronic and calling my parents in the middle of the night to come get me. And that’s because I wasn’t prepared for the spiders that fell from the ceiling and into your hair while showering. And I certainly wasn’t prepared for the severe weather that descended day after day, so rather than spending our time crafting and canoeing, we ate a lot of Thin Mints and Samoas while sheltering from tornadoes in concrete bath houses. By some miracle I can report that the dilapidated tent did indeed keep myself and my three other bunkmates dry, but when my parents finally arrived to take me home after six nights, I declared I was never going camping again.
The funny thing about declarations, though, is how they have a way of being turned on end. Because then I met Jarrett. And Jarrett grew up camping. In fact, both sets of Jarrett’s grandparents had even been campers. So camping was deep in his blood. His parents took him camping from the time he was baby and they spent summers in tents, truck campers, motorhomes, and houseboats. Later as a teen Jarrett discovered a love for hard core backpacking trips and nearly disavowed RV camping entirely.
But then Jarrett met me. We clearly came from two different worlds—can we say incompatible? But with marriage being the great compromiser, the only way to reconcile our two polar opposite backgrounds was to meet in the middle—and that came in the form of a second-hand pop up camper Jarrett’s dad gave us for a wedding present. It was tiny–and very basic–but it became the bridge between Jarrett’s love of backpacking/tent camping and my aversion to the whole idea of camping. It was the gift that launched me into the world of RVing.
Since then we’ve upgraded our rig a few times—first to one of the largest pop-ups on the market (because when you are potty training toddlers, campers with cassette toilets are a must—can I hear an Amen?); then to a 32-foot bunk house travel trailer; and most recently to our 1976 Silver Streak, that we are still rehabbing.
Our family includes three kiddos–Sweet Pea, Flash, and Dash, whom we formerly called our little Tornado (these all being their nicknames of course). In many ways, we have our kids to thank for this whole big RVing adventure that we are on. We realized a few years ago that we only had about 10 summers left before our eldest headed off to college. The sinking realization of how fast the years were passing made us realize that if we didn’t get intentional about creating family connections in those remaining years, we might miss those opportunities all together. And thus our RVing bucket list and dream grew.
Although we are not full-timers, we homeschool, which has thankfully given us a lot of flexibility to travel with our children. And all three of them are reaping the benefits on this incredible travel journey, including their favorite part of our trips: earning Junior Ranger badges at the national park service sites we visit.
Our Vision & Invitation
While we love to slow down and gather the family around a campfire, we also can’t sit still for long. We like to explore the regions we visit–scoping out famous spots and hidden treasures. The Touring Camper was born in 2014 from our desire to find an online resource that combined detailed information about campgrounds with ideas for touring around the country. Since then it has grown to become a place where our mission is to help other families create family connections, one RV adventure at a time.
We’d like to invite you to come along with us on this adventure. We hope what you find here will serve as inspiration as you find your own unique ways to create connections with your family and friends through RVing and travel.
Along the way we’ll also feature additional camping tips for camping newbies to veteran Weekend Warriors–from camping cuisine and camper modifications, to monthly spotlights on RV ministries and camper-in-training tutorials. So grab your beverage of choice and come hang out with us for awhile. And who knows, maybe one day we’ll cross paths at the campground!
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