It’s undeniable that we are connected to it, how we feel while in its midst. It was once a way of life, the “great outdoors” as it’s known. But in today’s world, being one with nature is not easy when we are many with life’s responsibilities. But one Tulsa family makes connecting with nature a priority. For them, turning off the modern world is as easy as a stroll in the woods.
For Amy and Ted Cavallin and their three sons, Will, 12, Drew, 10, and Cameron, 8, camping is quickly becoming a pastime. It’s growing and bonding in some of the most beautiful settings in the country. Colorado, New Mexico, Arkansas, Florida and several other states have become their home away from home. This family has chosen to make memories, not within the walls of a structure, but in the limitless confines of the outside world. And to see the three young boys light up when speaking about their adventures in the greatest playground ever conceived, one just knows there is no place like home - where the campfire is always lit.
“It’s glorified tent camping,” Ted said. But certainly not ‘glamping,’ which is basically living with all the comforts of home in an RV nestled in the outdoors. The family owns a pop-up camper primarily for sleeping, but all other activities, including cooking, are done outside. For this family, the only way to connect with nature is to be in nature.
They have camped from one coast to the other, setting up campsites in state, national and Corp of Engineers parks across the country. Their travels have taken them to California twice, camping in multiple states along the way. They pitch the pop-up, build campfires, and rig up the fishing gear at each new location. In addition, they have traveled to Florida and up the East Coast at multiple parks. The family always tries to camp near the water because the boys love to fish, Ted said. They have become quite proficient anglers as well, as seen from mom’s proud photos. Of course, dad still helps with the pole rigging. But the boys are learning more with each trip.
For the boys, it’s an experience in life that, in many ways, has been lost to the younger generations growing up in a technology-driven world. It’s an opportunity for boys to be boys… ya know, with all those pesky little things that fly, slither, sting, and bite. The boys love them! Especially snakes.
“They’re all boy, fearless,” Ted said. Amy, on the other hand, is not so thrilled about the boys’ choice of playthings. But the experiences and memories the family is making are priceless, and certainly worth the cost of a few insect bites, stings, and the occasional snake handling. The boys are also learning about the creatures they are finding, even learning how to tell the difference between poisonous and non-poisonous snakes.
“Ted told me once that I act like I am raising girls when I am freaking out about them picking up snakes. I said ‘Well, I am a girl, and I don’t know what else to do’,” Amy quipped. But Amy, unlike Ted, who grew up camping, has become quite the camping enthusiast, even being the driving force behind the family camping experiences. She was intrigued by the stories relayed to her by Ted’s mother about family camping when Ted was a child. She fell in love with the idea and wanted to make it a part of their family experience. They now travel to campgrounds all over, even planning trips months in advance using the boys’ school calendar to not miss any opportunities.
The boys have certain aspects of camping they call their favorite. The big ones include exploring, snake hunting, campfire meals, meeting new people, and of course, fishing.
“The kids make instant friends when we camp, and camping is just like that when around others you share something in common with,” Ted said. It’s really a unique dynamic where you meet and make friends from all over with people who also enjoy the outdoors, Ted and Amy explained. They have become part of a community both in the parks and in life - staying connected through social media with their traveling friends.
For Ted, a Tulsa builder, and Amy, a real estate agent, camping is a great escape from their busy professional lives. Although Amy does work while they are driving to their destinations and the boys are allowed their electronic toys during travel, the modern world is put away once they arrive at camp. Once camp is set up, it’s just nature, friendships, and the way the world used to be when outside was still the greatest playground for children and adults alike. Like the Cavallin family, perhaps it’s time we all spend a little more time around a campfire and remind ourselves that peace and unity may be found in a simple walk through the beauty (and the occasional snake’s path) that is nature.