By Sammi Johnson

Campers move slow on the road, appear cumbersome and seem better suited for an older demographic, right?

Nope. They’re for us!

Let me explain the long, wandering road to camperville. I never dreamed it would happen, but now we’ll likely never go back.

As a once-proud minimalist and lightweight Dana Design-toting backpacker, the thought of anything else didn’t cross my mind. With kids, however, we have an incomprehensible amount of baggage that even the most devout backpacker and tent-dweller may think twice about toting anywhere.

Kids require stuff. We’ve whittled down the original amount of stuff over time (no need for three packages of baby wipes – one will do), and I’ll never forget “packing” the car for the first time with a baby for an overnight trip to my Dad’s house. I packed less on a three-month journey to Mexico. It was daunting.

We also found that it was sometimes easier to be inside, stay home and forget how nourishing the outdoor air can feel. We started to forget how nature feeds our souls and has shaped us as humans and professionals. Like everybody with new babies and kids, we were surviving in our safe zone. We needed to breathe and be in the outdoors. The restorative benefits began outweighing the intimidating exercise of packing to leave the house.

Enter Shelly. That’s our camper’s name.

Pack her up with everything you “need” and GO! It’s that easy, and we’re all about making it easy to roam.

We go in the rain, the wind, in the yard or for long weekends to far corners of the state. Home is wherever we park it, and we’ve found that family time on the road with a tow-behind camper works for us.

As a close friend told me, “The outdoors nourishes us more than anything else.” I couldn’t agree more! We didn’t know we missed it or craved it so much until it was back. Now we get it. Doing that with the kids via camper is one way we feel comfortable in it, for more seasons, shoulder seasons and rainy days.

Shelly’s not fancy. She’s not born from this decade. Shelly is a 60s baby, adorned with adorable antique accents, original upholstery and has the bones of a very fun design project for me. And she’s perfect. I mean, besides updating the furnace, new tires, new rims and a questionable bathroom. Luckily, we’re not afraid of a challenge.

Shelly is our gateway to weekend getaways, and she allows us to roam both near and far.

That’s important – find a road, follow it, or don’t. But enjoy it comfortably. Our original sentiments about campers, RVs, motorhomes, whatever you want to call them, went out the window as we were cruising down the road pulling sweet Shelly. The alternative was nothing at all.

This summer, we challenged ourselves to 10 camper excursions. We’re about halfway, but determined to get there, wherever that may be. Home is wherever you park it, so roam however you want with whatever you’ve got. Remembering why we live here and choose to stay is easier with Shelly. Our Dana backpacks are still in the closet, patiently waiting for the day they return to our backs. ‘Til then, thanks Shelly.