Thursday, July 15, 2010

Smoky Mountains #2: Child’s wonderland

During a recent family gathering in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, five-year-old grandson Nate summed up one of my favorite things about camping in the Smokies.

Nate’s observation came during a trek to a nearby comfort station in the park’s Elkmont Campground near Gatlinburg, TN.

“At home you just go to the bathroom,” he said. “Here it’s like exploring!”

All the daily chores and routines of life take on the spice of adventure when conducted out of doors with a friendly campfire burning, towering trees above you and a stream’s burble replacing the electronic cacophony of a more urban environment.

Mom makes a game of brushing teeth for her four at the Skupien campsite.

Two-year-old Stella finds tooth brushing on a rock an irresistible challenge.

The impact is especially noticeable on children. Our choice has been to focus on the walks, hikes and other activities available within the park with a rare venture into commercial entertainment venues. Our sons grew up camping in the Smokies, and now they are introducing their children to the pleasures—and sometimes pains—of eating, sleeping, playing and learning in the mountains’ extravaganza of natural wonders.

A day’s adventures might include. . .

Rock throwing beneath the campground bridge. . .

Tubing the rapids. . .

Hiking with Baboo. . .

Tackling a new skill, or. . .

Discovering unexpected treasure.

At the end of the day, I am thankful that children, parents and grandparents have shared authentic experiences rather than a frenzied five days of commercially fabricated fun.


  1. Wonderful, fun memories for all!

  2. I think you have it right. Kids learning to make their own fun and finding out that life doesn't need to be mechinized is priceless.
    I love the shot of the toothbrushing.