We’ve discovered that RVing is a great family activity! We hadn’t had a chance to try it out until recently, and now that we’ve done it, we know it won’t be the last time! And did you know you can go RVing with your family even if you don’t own your own RV? To be honest, I hadn’t ever thought about it, but I’m glad I know now!
We have to admit that, when our friend Christy at GoRVing told us we were going to be driving 31-foot RVs, we were a little nervous. But it turned out that it wasn’t hard at all! We drove on the interstate and through some small towns and winding roads, so we experienced several kinds of driving conditions. And the view driving to the campground was stunning. Upstate New York around Jellystone in North Java is just beautiful! Who would have ever thought the landscape would look like this?
The day we left the RV park, it was raining, so we got a bit of experience driving the RVs in the rain too. Backing up is a little challenging, but we had our teens with us, so they were able to help guide us, and the backup cameras make it so much easier.
Once we arrived at Jellystone Park in North Java, New York, we had to get our RVs hooked up and ready to use. That was much easier than we thought it would be too! We had to hook up a few hoses and flip a few switches, and it was done! Then we took a few minutes to explore the RVs and their features before we went out to see what the campground had to offer.
Because Trish has three teenage boys and I (Wendy) have a teenage girl, we had separate RVs. Even with four people in Trish’s camper, they had plenty of room to sleep, eat, work, and relax. We were surprised at just how much room we had in our RVs! You can see from the picture above how big the inside is once the slides are out. Each RV had a bedroom in the back (complete with a queen size bed, a wall of drawers and cabinets, a TV, and two small “night stand” shelves beside the bed). The beds were very comfortable, but what Trish loved most was the vent over the bed. She had hers open the entire time (causing her boys to freeze!) to let in the fresh air.
There is no denying the bathroom is small, but honestly, I would rather have that space in the living and sleeping areas anyway. The bathroom was big enough to do what you need to do in a bathroom and was WAY bigger than some “shoilets” (shower/toilet combos) as they are called in the RV industry.
Trish’s boys used the bunk beds in her RV, and from what they said, they were pretty comfortable. And the bunk beds had their own little privacy curtain to draw at night and their own little night lights so the boys could keep up with their homeschool classes.
In this well-organized little kitchen, we had a sink, four-burner gas stove, a microwave and a refrigerator, and enough cabinets to store all of the pots and pans, dishes, and food we brought. Trish has three teenage boys, so you know she had a lot of food in her RV!
The kitchen table with bench seating doubled as our office, and it also converted into a bed (although neither of us needed to do that with all the other sleeping accommodations). The kitchen table had a huge window beside it which allowed us to get great natural light while we were working because, honestly, we ate most of our meals outside on the picnic tables or around the fire! Finally there was a nice couch that folded out into a bed if needed (which we didn’t), and each RV had a loft bed over the driver and passenger seats (both Gage and Mary Grace enjoyed this space so much in our respective RVs).
We arrived late on Friday afternoon, so we took the evening to unpack our things and eat dinner. Trish’s youngest son Blake did the cooking, and he did a great job! We ate dinner and sat around the campfire to visit for a while. In fact, it turned out that some of our favorite things to do the whole weekend were just to slow down and take the time to talk with our kids, tell stories around the campfire (You should have heard them!!), eat together, and enjoy each other’s company. But the campground also had some fun activities going on, and we did participate in some of those over the weekend too.
On Saturday, there were quite a few activities offered for kids of all ages. They had coloring & cartoons followed by a flag raising and “Hey, Hey, Hey ride.” Then they had arts & crafts, bingo, scavenger hunts, hide & seek, mini golf, a sidewalk chalk contest, and a glow stick hay ride that evening, not to mention the extra large game of Connect Four. Chase and Mary Grace played it during one of their many excursions around the premises. Who knew RV parks have all these amazing fun activities already planned and just waiting for us?
Saturday night as we sat around the campfire roasting marshmallows, we were being serenaded by a couple of families down the road. These guys sang so well, several of us wandered over to listen closer. They had three different RVs there full of their family and friends. It was a delight to see these families making time to enjoy each other’s company and to just downshift for the weekend. Everybody we met in the campground was just like this – so nice and helpful. I think that surprised all of us. We never really expected this kind of community environment to already be there and established. You automatically become a part of it the moment you drive in!
Sunday offered us more chances for coloring, hay rides, arts & crafts, bingo, and tie-dying. They also had a small arcade, a water park area (Which looked like a lot of fun, but the temperatures were in the 50s while we were there, so we opted against it!), a heated pool, gem mining (offered at certain times), canoeing and kayaking, laser tag, ceramics, candle art, a little snack bar, and a small store. And, for those of us who had to get some school or work done while we were there, there was free wifi. (You can see some of our kiddos playing games near the campfire in the picture above.)
We really enjoyed playing bingo with our teens a couple of times over the weekend! Blake and Gage both ended up winning! The bingo games we played were Candy Bar Bingo games. That meant, you guessed it, we had to “pay” with candy bars to play the game–which was pretty awesome because after the first round, everybody got to choose a candy bar as a prize. The person who won the round, though, got a big bag full of all kinds of candy bars! Both Gage and Blake were kind enough to share their prize with all of us!
Another of our favorite activities was tie-dying. My daughter and I and Trish and her kids enjoy tie-dying, so we were happy to know that we’d have the chance to do this. And it was (we have to admit) even nicer because all we had to do was show up with our nice white Yogi Bear’s Jellystone Park t-shirts. Somebody else had all of the supplies we needed and had all of the dye mixed and ready. And we didn’t even have to clean up when we were done! We just took our shirts, dropped each one down in a grocery bag (also provided by the camp), and went back to our RVs. Because the shirts were still wet (It’s best to wait at least 24 hours–or up to a week–to rinse out our shirts and wash them before we can wear them.), we put them in plastic zip-lock bags just to ensure that they didn’t leak on anything while we waited to rinse, wash, and wear them.
We also had a great time getting creative and making our own etched glass lanterns! Our sweet friend, Christy with GoRVing, brought the supplies for us as a surprise. They were really easy and lots of fun to make, and they turned out beautifully! If you want to make your own, just take a look at our etched glass lantern tutorial. We used our new etched glass lanterns each evening outside on the picnic tables or inside on our windowsills.
Because we have only teens who will soon be grown and off to college or work, we truly did enjoy taking some time over the weekend to slow down and visit. We roasted marshmallows over the fire and each evening, played Scattergories (If you haven’t tried this game, you should!), ate meals together, and took time for conversations. Life is so busy, and our kids grow up so fast! It can be hard to make time to just enjoy our kids, but we’re learning how important it is to do it before they leave home. After all, we want them to value their time with us too!
So not only did we prove to ourselves that we really are able to drive RVs, but we also had a fantastic time whether we were doing the activities provided by the camp or just hanging out with our teens.
If you have an RV, take every opportunity to use it! Go places–even if it’s just to a local camp. If you don’t have your own RV, check into renting one. Find a camping spot and enjoy your family!