Friday, July 15, 2011

Family Camping Fun and Tips for Success

It’s that time of year again – camping season! This is a Guest Post from Peter Chase, co-parent of three kids, one of whom has a disability, all of whom love camping. Peter volunteered with our REC Connect Skating Program in Worcester this winter and now provides his personal story and expertise on family camping in New England. He also kindly offers himself as a resource to families interested in camping. Thanks Peter!


Peter and Everett enjoying the water together.
Our family loves to go camping from spring through Columbus Day. I am grateful that our parents took us camping when were kids – there’s nothing I looked forward to and enjoyed more.

Now that I have three children of my own, the tradition continues. My kids love it as much as I did. Some trips are just our immediate family, some are with extended family, where family members bond with each other while enjoying a refreshing dips in the pond, playing ball, or exchanging stories by the campfire. All without the distraction of electronics – imagine that!

Seven years ago, we welcomed our son Everett into the world. Everett has a form of Menkes disease, leaving him non-verbal and without the ability to walk or even sit up. Nevertheless, he is an engaged, fun loving kid who takes a back seat to nobody in his love of camping and the outdoors. He has always been his happiest when outside. His favorite activity is swimming. Anyone who is at the campground beach or pool quickly know that Everett is there by his loud hollers of joy when my wife Michele or I take him in the water!

Everett also now enjoys bike rides on his new Duet Bike thanks to the Make A Wish foundation that was kind enough to furnish us with this spring. He loves it.

He has an older sister Meredith 10, and a younger sister Heather, 5. They both eagerly count down the days to our next camping trip.

I would encourage and family that has a member with a disability to give camping a try if you haven’t already. It can be great fun for the whole family creating wonderful lifelong memories.We camp in a pop up camper, and we often have 2 adults and 5 kids when we take nieces and/or nephews. Most of the time, we have a large tarp set up if there’s any chance of rain. I like to go to the campground ahead of time- sometimes the night before, and return home the same night, so everything is ready when the family arrives.

If you have a family member with a disability, I strongly recommend doing some advance scouting before booking a trip. How level are the roads? If they’re not paved, are they firm enough for a wheelchair? How easy is it to get into the pool area, or down to the beach? State Park campgrounds typically have handicapped sites, near the bathrooms, but they may not be the site you’re looking for. Do your homework to ensure your camping trip is a successful one. Never book a trip based on a brochure or a website, you really need to see it in person.

Peter and Michele and their three very happy campers at
Harold Parker State Forest.
We camp at Harold Parker State Forest in Andover a couple of long weekends a year, and we like the deep forest setting and large sites. Everett’s two sisters love the playground, and the roads are fairly level for taking Everett on his bike rides. At Harold Parker, we like sites 74, which is an accessible, large and level, mostly free of roots site near the bathroom, and the field is right behind it. Site 66 is a management site which can’t be reserved, but it is next to the playground, and is a flat, large wooded site and a favorite of ours when we can get it.

If I think bugs are going to be bad, I set up a screen house. (camping in early and late in the season is great, because we don’t have to worry about bugs with Everett - he can’t protect himself from them.) We also have a hat with side flaps that we spray with repellent with DEET to keep them away from his face, and of course spray his clothes when they’re really out. This is all necessary only at dusk generally.

We also camp at NH, MA and VT state parks, and a couple of campgrounds in ME – Papoose Pond and Cathedral Pines. Our favorite campgrounds are Lorraine Campground in Harold Parker State Forest, Bear Brook State Park in Allenstown, NH, Mt. Ascutney State Park and Wilgus State Park in VT the fall.

Read more about these campground options and get Peter's contact info by clicking "Read More"!

Traditionally we camp at Harold Parker in spring and maybe one other weekend during the summer. We love the close proximity and the deep forest feel, and playground, and reasonable prices. My parents would take us there when we were kids also, along with extended family.


We camp at Bear Brook for several days over the July 4th holiday, It is also forested, level and an easily accessible campers beach. Family camping trips to Bear Brook is a family tradition for 60 years. It’s great to see the kids enjoying the park the same way I did when I was their age.

Wilgus State Park’s sites are along the CT river, and Mt Ascutney has a road right in the campground that goes to the top of Mt Ascutney – fabulous for foliage viewing, and also is a favorite for hang gliders. (Due to favorable thermal air currents I’m told).

We also usually go on a weeklong camping trip to a more “resort” type of campground once a year, where there are organized kids activities, movie nights, entertainment, etc. We are going to Papoose Pond in Waterford, ME in a few days for a week and are looking forward to it.

Anyone who wants further information or advice, feel free to contact me at p.chase@comcast.net.

1 comment:

Atif Shahzad said...

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