Lively Little Campers: Celebrating Mom & Supporting KOA’s Care Camps: Our Favorite Family Tradition

image1 When you own an RV, planning your next family adventure is always part of the fun.  But should you go somewhere new or return to a place that you love? Our family has camped in eight different states, and we hope to travel to all fifty.  So whenever we hit the road with our White Hawk, we usually prefer exploring new destinations. However, there are certain campgrounds that call us back again and again.  The Philadelphia/West Chester KOA is one of those special places.  It is the home of our family’s favorite camping tradition. Here’s why:

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1. It is a perfect place to spend Mother’s Day weekend. This KOA, which is owned and operated by Gary and Lori Levesque, is a wonderful setting for spending quality time together while celebrating Mom.  They have a shady playground, an open field for sports, a gem mining station, and a miniature golf course.  But most importantly, the idyllic Brandywine River meanders across the southwest side of the property.  This river is perfect for fishing with little kids or for taking mom on a long Mother’s Day canoe ride.  The banks of this historic river are filled with red-winged blackbirds and American golden finches, and the water is usually crystal clear and perfect for a brisk swim.  The Philadelphia/West Chester KOA is close enough for a weekend getaway–but once we dip our oars into the Brandywine we feel like we are a world away from home.

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2. We love supporting KOA’s Care Camps charity.  Mother’s Day weekend always coincides with KOA’s Care Camps weekend.  Four years ago we came for the free night of camping, but now we return to support this inspiring charity.  Each spring participating KOA campgrounds and their campers raise money to “send children with cancer to medically supervised camps where they have a great time in the great outdoors.”  Pretty easy to get behind that cause, right?  It was for us.  The Care Camps charity began in 1984 when donations for six camps totaled $7,100.  This year $800,000 was raised to support 52 different camps across the country.  The Levesques helped raise money by, among other things, selling Care Camps t-shirts and throwing an ice cream social with live music at their Liberty Lodge.  We did our part by polishing off some of that tasty ice cream and leaving with a bag full of new t-shirts.  This charitable aspect of our family tradition gives us an opportunity to teach our boys that they can help others and have fun doing it.

image4 3. Longwood Gardens is a hop, a skip, and a jump away.  You could spend the entire weekend right on the grounds of this delightful KOA, but then you would miss Longwood Gardens, which is a short drive away from the campground and makes for a perfect day trip. It is the former home of Pierre S. DuPont, and is truly one of our country’s great horticultural treasures. The highlight for us is always the magical Indoor Children’s Garden.  Our boys love to get wet in one of the many kid-friendly fountains and then run through the bamboo maze and bang on the xylophones at the music station.  Mom and Dad have wizened up over the years and now we make sure to bring towels and extra clothes for the kids.  When a camping destination becomes a family tradition you are given the opportunity to perfect your approach–and we definitely have more fun each year during Care Camps weekend.

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4. It’s a great place to bring family and friends.  We are big believers in sharing the joy of RVing with our friends and extended family, and we also believe in letting our favorite family traditions grow and change.  The Philadelphia/West Chester KOA is one of those super friendly campgrounds that has a very welcoming atmosphere.  So this year we brought Max and Theo’s godmother along and she contributed to the trip in spades.  When our twins found out that she was coming, they told her that she would have to be on best behavior while at the campground.  I’m happy to report that she was.  She made sausages for dinner, read the boys books before bedtime, and started up a baseball game right in front of our campsite.  She threw all strikes.  We definitely plan on saving her a bunk for next year’s trip.

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Are you hoping to start a new family camping tradition?  If so, find a campground that your family will love returning to for generations to come.  Why not try a KOA during Care Camps weekend?  Your family will help raise money for a worthy cause and you’ll get to celebrate Mom, everyone’s favorite camper.  Take her out for an invigorating hike and a canoe ride on a sparkling river.  Instead of buying her a bouquet, surround her with gardens of beautiful flowers.  She won’t miss brunch a bit.

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Jeremy and Stephanie Puglisi blog about camping and traveling with their three young children at livelylittlecampers.com

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