As we near the beginning of another camping season, our team spent some time reflecting on adventures past. For many of us, early memories of camping trips and outdoor excursions continue to inspire our current passion for spending time in nature. While our memories and experiences vary, all point to the restorative power of communal moments with loved ones outdoors.
“Growing up, my family would often camp and fish on the Metolius River, one of the most notoriously difficult rivers to catch trout in the Northwest. During one of the first trips, my dad caught a fish and when I wasn't looking tied it on the end of my line that I left on the bank of the river. When he got my attention and told me I caught a fish, I didn't question how it got on my line that was sitting in the grass or why a fish would take a big rubber lure on my toy rod. I just swung that fish in front of every member of my family with such pride, it gave me the confidence that I could catch fish and probably led to me still fishing the Metolius today.” -Mickey G.
“I grew up in the Midwest and we were driving up through Minnesota on our way to fish on Lake of the Woods in Canada. I was 7 and was celebrating my 8th birthday the next week while fishing for walleye in Canada. What could be better! Well, the first night of our drive North we were camping near Big Falls, MN. My parents were in the truck camper, my three siblings in a tent, and I was sleeping on the front truck bench seat. I got hot during the night, so cracked the window for a little air and woke up in the morning with 41 mosquito bites on my face and neck! I was so sound asleep, I never felt or heard them. Naturally, it was a couple of uncomfortable days that followed, but I have been camping every year since. The good times far outweigh mosquito challenges.” -Chris S.
“All of my earliest camping memories involve our family's relic of a tent. It was my grandparents' tent when my dad was growing up and had already seen several decades of use by the time it was handed over to my parents. It was a green and blue canvas monstrosity that smelled like a musty campfire and had questionable water resistance capabilities. Despite its many shortcomings, it had ample space for the five of us and our dog, and it lingers in the background when I reflect on our trips to the beach and Lost Lake in Mt. Hood National Forest. It's a symbol of my first formative outdoor experiences and a reminder that time with loved ones is what makes camping special (though a waterproof tent doesn't hurt).” - Savanna F.
“When I was a child, I often went camping with my family. A night at camp was a bit scary for a child, and I always wondered if bears would attack us. But when I got into the tent and zipped it up, I felt like I was in my own safe and secure place. Even now, when I hear the sound of the tent zip up, I feel comfortable and safe." -Takuma G.
“My first serious outdoor experience was as a college kid in Jackson Hole. I went mountain biking in the Tetons and flew from my bike with regularity and went white water kayaking down the Snake River. I'm very grateful for my helmet, which protected my head from all the rocks underwater, where I spent most of my float.” - Jim M.
“My earliest camping memories were going to Ochoco National Forest for the Oregon Star Party. I must have been maybe 5 years old or younger, and so a lot of those memories feel a bit like an impressionist painting now. I remember flashlights with red tape, hot cocoa, cold high desert air and the darkest sky (and brightest stars) I'd ever seen. I remember telescopes taller than I was set up all around the campsites. It was out there that I saw the Milky Way with my naked eye for the first time. It felt unreal, and I went a long time before seeing it like that again - almost 20 years. Until I saw it again in my mid-twenties, part of me felt like what I'd seen back then was a dream.” - Ryan B.
“I was in 4th or 5th grade when our summer family camping trip took us out west to South Dakota. We hadn't reserved a campsite in advance and, when we arrived, we discovered that we had unknowingly timed our vacation with the annual Sturgis Motorcycle Rally and everything was fully booked. With nowhere to go and three restless kids in tow, my dad happened to find a super generous landowner within the Sioux reservation who was kindly allowing people to camp on their open land. That night our family laid out on the open prairie, surrounded by a bunch of bikers, and watched the most spectacular Perseid meteor shower with everyone ooing and ahhing in unison. It was the first time I'd ever seen a shooting star and I counted over 60 before I fell asleep. We woke up to a herd of wild buffalo maybe a hundred yards away. Absolutely one of the most incredible experiences of my life.” - Olivia H.
“I think my first camping trip was in kindergarten. I went camping with my family, but I still remember that the rice was not cooked properly and got burnt, and that it rained so hard that we could not play, so I stayed in the rain with my sisters and played with origami. These may be memories of some difficulties and bad weather. But strangely enough, I believe that these small difficulties are the memories that remain stronger in my memory and that I can laugh about as an adult. One of the most memorable recent experiences was the Snow Peak Way in October 2021. Being my first camp after coming to the US from Japan, I was a bit apprehensive about whether the community would accept me. But as we sat around the campfire together, roasting s'mores over it and gazing up at the stars, I had this thought.
"Even if we speak different mother languages, or are of different ages or genders, if we camp together, we can all laugh together." I thought I knew what camping was all about, but this memory reminded me what a wonderful thing camping and campfires can be to connect people from all over the world. The starry sky that day looked unforgettably beautiful, and as I was surrounded by the beautiful stars in the darkness, I was secretly grateful, perhaps exaggerating, to have been born into this world and to be alive now." -Kei S.
“My first night camping, I was in Chile and starting my backpacking trip down to Patagonia. After arriving by ferry late in the night, I set up a tent anywhere that was flat and away from the main road and had no idea what I was doing and was very tired. I went to bed exhausted that night and in the morning woke up to a beautiful, forested view with a waterfall in the background. Many other campers were there who took the same trip, and it was nice to feel the community of adventurers together in this one place. I can’t remember the name of the town, just the memory of that moment of wonder.” Sivhoung P.
Peak camping season will be here before we know it! After you book your campsites for the summer, review your gear collection to ensure you’re prepared. Shop our Starter Camp Collection to replace essentials or further flesh out your kit.