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The Only Thing On The Summer Bucket List… Camp Out

August 9, 2019

Filed in: Family

I hate trying to check off all the things on a list and feeling like I’m not keeping up with societies standards of what I’m supposed to be doing with my kids over the summer.  After some years of practice, I’ve come to a place of confidence.  A place of knowing a bit better who we are and what we like.  I used to busy myself with planning out big expectations and offering a variety of opportunities for our family’s interests.  Now I have learned to rest in simply following their lead.  I look at it as though I’m constantly curating our lifestyle and what sets us free and brings us life.  Similar to the Marie Kondo philosophy I suppose… If it doesn’t give us energy and happiness I don’t give it a wink. 

As I’ve observed our curiosities and edited down the list of what works for us it always brings me closer to knowing what also to say no to.  As with all things in our culture today… there are too many directions you can go and distractions at hand that can lead you astray of truly living for the most and leaning into what’s really meaningful. 

When you think back on the family moments that are your fondest, you most likely think of presence, engagement, and even some indulgence.  Spontaneity deserves a little room, right?  When we try to pack too much in, there is just no space for those sweet memories to be made. 

Once you come to terms with not doing it all, you can go deeper into what makes your family special and start building a strong foundation based on that.  I’ve noticed I have a lot more peace of mind when we commit to less and its line with us.  There is a satisfying fulfillment that sits well with my soul.

All this being said it brings me to sharing our families summer soft spot… Camping under the stars.  We’re an active family and we love the outdoors.  Our whole family functions better when we’re out in the fresh open air.  It’s undeniably our natural medicine that alleviates and eliminates any ailments… talking figurative language folks; P  

At the end of each year, I ask everyone to name their favorite thing and it’s always a unanimous vote! Camping Out wins.  This was why I started making sure to include it again and again.  The fact that it’s the most cost-efficient fun and the children find endless ways to be independent never hurts either!!

I thought I’d share the rhythm we find ourselves falling into each summer as well as the secret spots we’ve found and the gear we’re discovering!

Rhythm- As I’ve been advocating so far, fun is found most often when you come by it naturally. When we started camp outs it was simply built on the things we we’re already doing… as well as our regional and seasonal weather and flow. We had always went to the river to kick off summer and to of course say goodbye to it, so we started building on going at the beginning and end of summer. We started taking the kids with us on kayak trips to teach them the ropes and how to get comfortable around the waters. Next, we began pitching our tent beginning with a short one night sleep. That eventually turned into two, and three and then even week long stays and even in new places! We typically try to camp out at least 3 times per summer. Once around Memorial Day, once midsummer, and once on Labor Day Weekend. If we squeeze in extra experiences with friends, we count that a win as well! When making your plans think about the things you already do and simply take it to the next level… how can you make it more of a tradition, or a new, better experience?

Spots- Jared and I were born and raised around the campground lifestyle because we live in the Ozarks where the main attraction is spending time in the great outdoors. We grew up with our families taking us to do the staple things like hiking, biking, floating, fishing, and family camping. Of course we first honor the traditional spots we grew up going and then we try to test out a new place every year too! Some of our favorites are our own property on Indian Creek as well as varieties of our families land on Elk River, Big Sugar, and Little Sugar. Those are all located in McDonald County in Missouri. We also have loved exploring other places in the Missouri Hills and Hollers. In the Branson area we love Big Cedar’s Camp Long Creek, Silver Dollar City Campground, and a jog away Roaring River State Park. We have recently started traveling a little further into Arkansas and loved Devil’s Den. We’ve went on some hiking trips to Jasper and hope to return for camping there too! The Buffalo River, the Mulberry River, and the White River are on our radar to do a float, camp, float – (overnight adventure) If you have any suggestions of actual locations we’d love suggestions! I see a lot of people sharing shots of Eureka Springs which looks oh so lovely.

Gear- Jared and I are always adding to our ongoing list! lol We go camping with close friends of ours often and we’re always putting our heads together to swap ideas and share our lists. Sometimes it helps to even go with friends and share gear!! One family can bring the tent, the other the cooler… etc- etc….. That’s half the fun! When we’re gathered around the campfire on nights with friends its funny how our conversations lead to “remember that time we perfected fried potatoes!” “Glad you brought that cast iron skillet, or where was it you bought that fancy fillet knife?” We’ve grown together and that’s the exact thing that makes it so special. It’s as if we look forward to finding out what our next challenge or tidbit of knowledge might be.

Here is the basic break down of our gear organized in categories with some additional bonuses that we’ve found to elevate the experience ; )


  • tent
  • entry mat
  • rug
  • lantern/solar lights
  • fan
  • cots/sleeping bags/pillows/blankets
  • towels
  • soiled clothes hamper
  • trash hamper
  • supply caddy
  • broom
  • dust pan


  • cooler
  • ice
  • water
  • groceries
  • drinks
  • knife
  • utensils
  • roasting rods
  • plates
  • cups
  • napkins
  • matches
  • boiler
  • propane
  • kettle
  • iron skillet
  • dutch oven
  • foil
  • dish towels
  • hand towels
  • sanitizer
  • soap


  • overnight bags
  • underwear
  • pajamas
  • tops
  • bottoms
  • sun dresses
  • suits
  • cover ups
  • hats
  • slides
  • water shoes
  • sunglasses
  • sweater/cardigan


  • small bag
  • shampoo/conditioner
  • soap
  • moisturizer
  • brush
  • toothbrushes
  • toothpaste
  • deodorant
  • sunscreen
  • bug spray
  • first aid kit


  • backpacks
  • dry bag
  • books
  • cards/games
  • camera
  • music speaker
  • bikes/helmets
  • boats/paddles
  • life vests
  • truck extender (boats)
  • bike rack
  • chargers
  • batteries
  • flash light
  • string lights
  • chairs
  • hammock

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