By Carl Whitehill – Decades ago, the word “camping” had a much different meaning to me than it does today. As a 12-year-old Boy Scout, camping was a weekend of bottomless canvas tents, under-cooked food prepared over an open fire and cold, wet socks. It was fun, you could say, but not as satisfying as my nice warm bed when I returned to my parent’s house a few days later.
Today, as a 40-year-old father of two boys, my standards are a bit different and while I still enjoy some of the outdoorsy nature of camping, it’s always nice to slip under the covers in a nicely air-conditioned cabin with a flat screen television and indoor plumbing at the end of the day. My standards perfectly match those of my wife, who’s three rules involve bathrooms, roofs-over-our-head and spiders. You can guess which my wife does not prefer. As attractive as modern conveniences are, we love the feeling that you don’t have to travel far to enjoy a weekend of camping. On a few occasions, my family has packed up the mini-van and ventured to a campground right here in Gettysburg, about 15 minutes from home. Once you’re there, watching the children enjoy the swimming pool, miniature golf and other fun activities, you’d never know that home was just down the road.
Last month, we headed to Drummer Boy Camping Resort, just east of Gettysburg. Our roof-over-our-head was Drummer Boy’s standard cottage – they’ve got luxury and rustic cabins too, but ours fit somewhere in the middle. It was spacious enough for our family of four and didn’t see one spider … inside the cottage. Drummer Boy is one of six campgrounds in the immediate Gettysburg area. They all feature a variety of amenities that are sometimes enough to keep busy families occupied throughout their stays, but the town is just a short-drive away for more fun, shopping and dining.
We spent the weekend swimming, fishing, cooking by the fire and more swimming. Camping is never as relaxing as I think it’ll be as there’s always things to be cooking, packing, cleaning or getting ready for. But as guilty as I feel sometimes (not that much guilt, really), we’ve caved on occasion and ordered food from the campground’s restaurant. Many of the campgrounds offer a variety of food for campers like myself who believe that cooking anything more than a hotdog or s’more over the fire is too much work and too much to clean up afterward.
As you walk around the campgrounds in Gettysburg, I get jealous of those visitors who spend their days walking the battlefield or mulling around town, only to return to their campsite at the end of the day with a marshmallow stick in hand and a warm campfire at their feet … and sometimes a cold beer in the cupholder of their camp chair. For most campers, they’d have it no other way.
For me, it’s all about putting my head down on a nice comfy bed in that air-conditioned cottage after a long day of creating memories with my family. There’s always lots of laughs, great stories to share and two tuckered-out little boys at the end of the weekend. I love remembering those days as a 12-year-old Boy Scout with wet socks, raw hotdogs and outhouses, and not reliving those days. Too old for that.
About the Author: A resident of Adams County, Pa., for eight years, Carl is still finding nooks and crannies of the Gettysburg countryside to tire out his two young – and energetic – boys. Always on the search for ways to keep his crazy family active and adventurous, Carl prefers to lace up his hiking boots over firing up the car for a ride, but opts for going out for ice cream over a cold beer any day. He lives in Littlestown, Pa., with his wife, Kim, and sons – Colin and Christian.