When I was growing up in Mattapoisett, MA, my family went camping and boating all the time. Maple Park family campground was only a short drive away. To my sister and me, it felt like we were in the Wild West. Around sunset on Friday and Saturday night, we would go on a hayride, come under attack by Indians, and get rescued by the Lone Ranger. During the day, we’d swim, go on the swan boats, and get candy at the general store.
As a father, I now realize how much work it takes to provide for a family of four—warm dinners at a campsite; enough fresh water for the weekend; some fruit, coffee, and cold beverages to make sleeping outside fun, even in the rain. Actually, camping in the rain is not much fun regardless. I think that’s one of the reasons my parents bought a sailboat.
But even sailing takes forethought. You have to do a lot of prep for a weekend on the Vineyard. You get ice for the icebox, fill it up with food, and get fuel and water. Then you’re ready to start your vacation.
Once you’re at your destination, whether it be the campground or the mooring, what you don’t want to be doing is sitting down making an “I wish I had” list. That’s when the vacation meter on your trip tilts from fun over to work. It’s like when you lose electricity at home. It’s fun having dinner by candlelight for a night or two. But then you wake up in the morning and there’s no way to make coffee.
So why not have a bin full of essential gear ready to go, just as you might have for camping and boating? It will put you ahead of the pack and make you a hero to your spouse—and even to your neighbors, if you share.
The gear doesn’t have to be complicated or expensive. For example, all you need to make coffee is a French press and boiling water—fire up your Coleman or Weber grill to heat it up. I’m not talking about keeping your family fed and sheltered for months; I’m talking about making two to four days more comfortable for all of you.
I’ll have more on disaster prep for you in the future, so stay tuned. But start thinking now about taking your family camping or boating this summer. Planning is all it takes to turn work into fun, or an inconvenient power outage into a weekend with the family without the electronics. Wouldn’t that be nice?