The year was 1996, I was a senior in college, 3 weeks from graduating, scared out of my mind, and looking for any distraction to keep me from thinking about THE big question. The question my parents, professors, family, and friends had been asking me all year, “What were my plans after graduation?” Gulp! I had no clue, let alone plans, so when my upstairs neighbor asked me and my roommate if we wanted to go camping with him and some old school chums, my immediate answer was, “Hell ya! Get me out of here and away from adult decisions.”
We loaded up my tiny, blue Geo Metro, drove across the never-ending fields of Eastern Washington and up into the Cascade mountains for a camping trip that would change my life, and my roommate’s life, forever. For on this trip, we each met our future husbands and made life long friends with some of the most fun-loving, crude, obnoxious, hilarious peeps I have ever, or will ever meet in my life. The camping trip was dubbed Apple Blossom, and every year to this day, the same merry band of fools gets together in the deep woods to celebrate life, love, laughter, and liquor.
Our sacred, kid free Apple Blossom tradition has managed to live on, but now we find ourselves middle age with mortgages, grown up jobs, pets, wrinkles, a few grey hairs and lots of children. Life is funny like that. It was time for a campout that included our spawn, but did not cramp the R Rated Apple Blossom weekend that we all cherished. A discussion was held, a consensus made, drinks were raised, and a new tradition was born. Family Blossom. A weekend in June were we come together as families and share in the joy, stress, and family freaking fun that is camping. We share smores and hot dogs by the campfire, swim, explore, build Legos, play cards, hide & seek in the dark, compete in a ‘Family Olympics’, and share a delicious pot luck meal the last evening.
The weekend is filled with activity, laughter, tears, bad parenting moments, and the camaraderie of knowing you aren’t in this alone. Cause in the end, it’s all about making memories and walking away with a good story to tell.
Speaking of stories to tell, 15 minutes into this year’s camping extravaganza, my son, Keegan, fell and broke his arm. NOT fun times, but after a trip to the local urgent care, he managed to stick the heat and the weekend out like a champ.
The Family Olympics portion of the weekend is taken very seriously, especially by our Olympic Officiate, Creator, & Executor, Ms. Sheri. She runs the Olympics with her whistle, clipboard, sunny disposition, and the determination of a naval captain. The afternoon includes family photos, 8 competitive events, swim & snack breaks, and the presentation of the tacky trophy every family covets The Family Blossom Olympic Champions Trophy. The winner of the trophy is required to add some flare to the gold monstrosity and return next year ready to hand the trophy off, and with a plan for one of the 8 Olympic events. The Olympics are a highlight of the weekend and much talked about and strategized all year long.
Each family wears a designated color of their choosing, to make score keeping and kid wrangling a whole lot easier. Plus, its fun to be all matchy, matchy one day a year, like a bad 80’s family photo (right, honey?). Taking the family color theme to the next level, The Jen House and I came up with a plan to make each family a flag that they could decorate and present during opening ceremonies, just like the real Olympics. As the families arrived at camp, they were each given a welcome packet that included the flag and directions on what to do and where to find supplies.
The morning of the Olympics, the families took turns decorating their flags and then hung them to dry.
The flags looked terrific all in a row and made the perfect backdrop for family photos. At the end of the camping trip, the families were invited to take their flags home and return with them again next year (if they can remember where they store it).
The flags were a huge hit, super cheap to make, and added some festive flare to our group campsite, which the campground ranger was very impressed with. For the free t-shirt flag tutorial, click here. Flags complete, memories made, and another successful Family Blossom is in the books. Now, go get your family, or your second family together for a campout and make some memories of your own. Happy camping!