Why would I leave my comfortable and spacious home to spend a weekend in a camper the size of our bedroom? Why would I trade my nice, hot shower for a community bathhouse and put up with bugs, dirt, gravel and sand?

There’s plenty of reasons why. But, mostly it’s about connecting or disconnecting. Connecting to family, God and nature. Disconnecting from media, distractions and household chores.

While we all have our moments during our camping excursions (pesky June bugs and cramped quarters sometimes make you lose it), in the end we all leave as Happy Campers.

Here’s a few reasons why camping tops my list of favorite summer activities.

1. Family Bonding. My love of camping started as a young girl. My dad owned a local electrical business that required long hours or work. But, he loved camping and that was when we got to spend time with him as a family. That’s when my real dad emerged. Now, I love seeing my real kids emerge during our camping adventures. Lazy days void of work, chores and household distractions give us a good dose of quality family time.

2. No Cleaning or Laundry. Sure, it takes some extra laundry time and preparation to pack for camping. But, once I’m there, it’s a weekend free of toilet scrubbing, laundry or floor cleaning. At home, these tasks always beckon me away from my family. At the campground, I’m free to spend my time playing board games or Frisbee or just chatting away with loved ones.

3. Best Food Ever, and I Don’t Have to Cook It. When we camp, the food prep and planning is all completed ahead of time. Last time we camped, my husband and I mapped out a meal plan and made a special 30-minute date night at the grocery store to purchase the food together. And, the best part for me is that most of the food requires the grill, which is my husband’s job! So, no cooking for me! And, since my husband is a better cook than I am, we feast on steak, chicken kabobs and juicy grilled hamburgers.

4. Camping Breakfast. In the camping world, breakfast rules! Nothing like waking up to a beautiful morning and heading out to the picnic table to eat a delicious breakfast among the chirping birds. Most camping folks have their favorite breakfast traditions, which may include bacon, eggs, pancakes, breakfast burritos or cinnamon rolls cooked in a Dutch oven. Our “camping breakfast” consists of eggs, bacon and blueberry bagels buttered and warmed crispy on a griddle. Yummy!

5. Outdoor Games. At home, the kids’ favorite activities are watching TV and playing video games. But, I actually witnessed my 11 and 15-year-old sons playing Frisbee together last time we camped! In addition to Frisbee, there’s ladder golf, horseshoes, bean-bag or washer tosses, badminton, baseball and whiffle ball. And for rainy days, there’s UNO, Yahtzee and Apples to Apples inside the camper. Most campgrounds also have playgrounds, and my kids can spend hours swinging or playing in the sand. Last summer, my son and his campground friends built an elaborate sand city complete with a river running through it.

6. The Great Outdoors. During our camping weekends, we take long walks or bike rides, noticing the birds, flowers and sounds of nature along the way. There’s just something about being in nature among the trees, grass and water that clears my mind and leaves me feeling refreshed. And, I feel closer to God when I’m enjoying His beautiful natural wonders.

Happy Campers: 7 Reasons a Weekend of "Roughin’ It" is Good for the Soul www.herviewfromhome.com

7. Campfires and S’mores. Sitting around a cracking, hot fire on a cool summer night brings about some of the best conversations. Everyone grabs their lawn chair and their favorite drink and sits in a circle around the fire. I love catching up on my loved-ones lives during this camping ritual. And, of course those slightly browned marshmallows squished between graham crackers and chocolate just add to the fun. Substitute a Reese’s Peanut Butter cup for the Hershey’s chocolate, and it’s pure camping heaven!

Happy Campers: 7 Reasons a Weekend of "Roughin’ It" is Good for the Soul   www.herviewfromhome.com

8. A Reason to Sit and Do Nothing. At home, a long to-do list nags at me all day. I wouldn’t dream of sitting in a lawn chair for even an hour enjoying the day. But while I’m camping, that’s what I do. It gives me an excuse to sit and do nothing and still feel like I’m doing something because I’m camping. And, that’s why I’m a Happy Camper!

Kristine Jacobson

Kristine Jacobson is a writer, a mother of three children and farm wife living in South-Central Nebraska. She puts her creative skills to use as editor of Nebraska Family Magazine at www.nebraskafamilymagazine.com and helps non-profits and small businesses share their stories in her public relations business, KRJPR.