Earlier this summer I had a thought: What if on our camping trips we could find a way to spread the gift of kindness and gratitude? What if at each campground stop we did one little thing to bless someone else?
This idea all started earlier this summer on a camping trip while I was reading The Broken Way. Author Ann Voskamp challenged her readers to “be the G.I.F.T.” (give it forward today) and find ways to spread kindness and gratitude. She found multiple ways to spread kindness by filling up parking meters, leaving quarters in gum ball machines, delivering chocolates to pediatric nurses, paying for a cart of groceries, and much more. She showed up in unexpected ways, and in her wake she left smiles and delight.
Her challenge resonated with me, particularly given the chaotic times that we live in. And yet, I wondered: What about finding our own unique way to be the G.I.F.T.?
As I sat reading and pondering while we were parked at the campground, it dawned on me that it was so simple: Why not start at the campground? As our travels carry us from place to place, how fun would it be for our whole family to leave behind a little dose of kindness and gratitude?
The next day when I shared the idea with the rest of my crew everyone was immediately on board. So together we brainstormed some ideas about where at the campground we could leave behind our random acts of kindness. And the campground bathrooms ranked as the whole family’s pick, because, really, the cleaning staff have one tough job. And if it wasn’t for them, can you imagine what visits to the campground would be like?
So then it was time to get creative: We did some Pinterest searching to find fun ways to say “thank you” while spreading smiles. I steered away from chocolate products for fear they might melt in the humid bathrooms, and I wanted to stay away from any food products that might be an allergy issue. So when I found a random-act-of-kindess idea using Extra gum, I knew it would work perfect for our plan. And this is what we came up with this year: “Thank you for working EXTRA hard to keep the campground awesome!”
We left our little surprises at the campground bathrooms in the mornings, and then the kids couldn’t wait to go back in the afternoon to see if they had been “picked up.” They all disappeared—hopefully to their intended recipients. 🙂
So with our one camper cupboard now stocked with our random-act-of-kindness (RAK) bags, I got to thinking again: Even if we had left a RAK behind at every campground this past year, we still would only have reached about a dozen sites. But what if other campers joined us in spreading kindness at the campground? What if we created our own little movement that started a ripple effect? How awesome would that be? Think about how many campgrounds we could reach together and how many people we could spread kindness and gratitude too?
So what do you think? Will you be part of our #CampgroundGIFT movement?
To get you started I have created two free printables that you can use to spread your own random acts of kindness at the campground. They work best printed on a thicker paper like card stock. We also put the cards and the Extra gum in plastic sandwich baggies to make sure they didn’t get wet in the bathroom.
If you decide to join us in being the G.I.F.T. at the campground, be sure to come back and share your stories about how you too are spreading kindness and gratitude at the campground! You can use #CampgroundGIFT if you share on social media. And please help us spread the word among your camping friends so we can create a #CampgroundGIFT movement!
What a great idea! I think sometimes about how all about US our travels tend to be…not that it’s not okay to do things for our family, but at home it’s so much easier to find small ways to help out friends and neighbors than it is when you’re at a campground and don’t know anyone. So I love that you’ve found a way to spread a little kindness on the road :).
Thanks so much Gretchen! Yes, that is exactly what I have been thinking too. Jarrett and I would love to do more: We find particularly intriguing how some RV families do disaster response for situations like Harvey. Right now our jobs don’t permit that kind of flexibility, but maybe one day …