RV Camping: The Ultimate Team Sport

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April 21, 2011

By Paula Loehr, R.N.

Remember the good ol’ days when your parents lectured you (or when you spoke authoritatively with your kids) about the roles that team sports play in character building? Positive life skills such as patience, self-confidence, and respect for others were attributed to playing organized games like soccer, baseball, or basketball.

On an expert note, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) agrees with parental (and grandparental) assertions that team sports can be a positive force for kids and their families. In a 2007 policy statement titled “Organized Sports for Children and Pre-Adolescents,” the AAP’s Committee on Sports Medicine and Fitness emphasized that sports provide opportunities for “increasing physical activity levels” and “learning social skills necessary to work as a team, learning good sportsmanship, and having fun.”

Just as in team sports, the AAP’s prescription for “having fun” is a natural side effect of RV camping. No matter what our ages are, campouts help us stay active, nudge us to appreciate the importance of teamwork, and provide plenty of chances to practice good sportsmanship.

What follows are six solid reasons why RVing qualifies as the ultimate team sport:

Adapting with Patience
Even in the most generously sized RVs, there’s a constant element of give and take when you’re sharing finite space and rubbing elbows with one or two (or seven) other people on a 24/7 basis. Factor in the effects of a vivacious pet or two, a couple of heavy snorers, and a week’s worth of steady rain. Generally, there are ample opportunities to master the skills of patience and adaptation while you’re camping. Here’s a rule of thumb … The longer the RV trip and the more time spent indoors together, the greater your in-depth “patience lessons” will be. While sitting on the bench for six full innings of baseball might teach vital lessons about patience, an action-packed camping trip can have the same effect, with the extra advantage of a grand slam fun factor.

Gaining Self-Confidence
It’s self-affirming to think about a dream campout. And it’s better yet when you plan a route, set an itinerary, gather the gear, line up your players, and make the getaway happen. In football, it’s a confidence-booster to kick a field goal. In the realm of camping, rolling out of your driveway at the start of a dream trip equals a touchdown in the self-esteem department. Extra point: RV trips last longer than football games.

Respecting Others
Respecting your camping companions’ requests and preferences — as related to personal space, quiet hours, menus, activities, and other opinion-related issues — is a basic rule of the camping game. Just as on a tennis court, it’s instructive to volley ideas with open minds and show a little love and R-E-S-P-E-C-T for your RV pals.

Accepting Responsibility
One hallmark of successful RVing is learning to divide and conquer the inevitable daily chore list. Camping is a hands-on learning lab for lessons in cooperation, so there’s no need to rely on a basketball coach to demonstrate the fundamentals of passing around responsibilities.

A week, month, or season of RV camping requires effective completion of many of the essential jobs you encounter in a standard home — on a somewhat smaller, more manageable scale. No matter where you are — on a basketball court or in a campground — it’s always wise to assign work according to individual abilities and interests. That’s how team members learn to rely on each other (and on themselves) to accomplish all the have-to’s in a given game. Campers have to slam-dunk mundane tasks, from trash takeout and laundry detail to galley duty and routine auto maintenance. After those duties are completed, it’s time to progress to the want-to’s — self-propelled choices that make RVing a free-spirited, energizing experience.

Setting Goals
Like a game of soccer or hockey, the practice of camping is awash with goals waiting to be scored: where to travel, what to do when you get there, when to make RV resort reservations, and what to take with you so you’ll be well-prepared for the upcoming adventure. If everyone on your travel team sets a goal of packing smart, you’re likely to be a bunch of happy, high-scoring campers. When it comes to packing for an RV trip, the things you don’t take might have a greater impact on your overall comfort and ease than what you actually choose to pack. Pack light, pack thoughtfully, and keep the riff-raff out of your RV. Less is almost always more on a camping trip! Chances are, your kids’ soccer coach won’t share this scoring tip with you.

Building a Sense of Community
Are you committed to strengthening the team spirit and sense of fair play within your one-of-a-kind circle of family and friends? Effective coaches who understand the true value of team camping recommend “Go RVing!”

For more info about RV travel, visit the Good Sam Club Trip Planning section where you can route your RV trip, read interesting RV travel articles, learn about points of interest, find RV campgrounds and print out RV checklists.

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