Lessons from the Road

I recently had the privilege of speaking at CODACON and Campminder Camp 8 in Boulder, CO. My wife, Pam, was there representing her camp and learning more about Campminder (and also supporting me). After the conference, we rented a 1995 VW Eurovan and lived in it for 18 days. It is the first time we ever tried living the RV lifestyle and honestly, we LOVED the entire trip!

Of course, as we were on the road I couldn’t stop thinking about camp and the clients I work with who are always eager to learn. We got home this past weekend and I started processing this trip from a different perspective so I could make this experience relatable to my camp friends.

The National Parks STAFF

While we were traveling, the political landscape in our country changed a bit and being somewhat disconnected (no TV News, “fake” or real), it didn’t really affect us much. The only time I really thought about the changes going on was while we visited the National Parks and the threat of de-funding these institutions. Let me tell you, the parks are gorgeous on their own and the STAFF are really what makes them special. There were several highlights I took from these visits:

  • Even in these quiet times, the parks are kept absolutely spotless. There is so much pride evident in the upkeep of the facilities.
  • The Rangers who work at these Visitor Centers/Parks are completely committed to their jobs. You can tell that they just want to preserve the natural resources we have and also help us enjoy these spectacular monuments.
  • From a facilities standpoint…the signage around the parks are super helpful and well thought out. It was really easy to find what we were looking for and understand what we were looking at.


Our busy lives don’t always allow us to get out of our “comfort zones” and we really should get moving! As we drove our 2600 miles in 18 days, we were bombarded with tremendous beauty. At times we were actually overwhelmed and couldn’t take it all in. It really made me value the incredible assets we all take for granted. Turn your phone off and take a hike one day in a nearby state park or your own camp property and just soak it all in, you’ll be amazed at what you see that may have been in front of you the whole time.

We need LESS

I am a confessed consumer, especially when it comes to technology and books, and knew before this trip that I had a lot of “stuff”. What I came to find out on this trip that life is sweeter when it’s simpler and most of the trappings of our “city” life are unnecessary and only serve to make life more complicated. On the road, we found ourselves climbing into bed (the back of our Camper Van!) at 8:30 every night and taking time to just read, talk or go to sleep. We were up way earlier in the morning then we ever are at home and it felt awesome to get on the road and start exploring every day with tons of extra daylight in front of us. We quickly figured out that we overpacked and could have both survived this trip with half of what we brought with us. This turned into an enthusiastic and really big purge the day after we came home. We donated a full truckload to the local Goodwill and tested the capacity of the Philly garbage trucks. And, we aren’t done yet!


As with anything, the person by your side changes your entire experience (for better or worse). This journey wouldn’t have been as meaningful, fun, exciting, well-planned or positive without the ultimate road trip partner, my wife, Pam. We complement each other in all the right ways and each have qualities that make up for each other’s weaknesses. She is definitely the risk taker and I am measured and risk averse (she’ll tell you it’s because I am older!) and that balance was important throughout the trip. She is great about getting me outside of my comfort zone and pushing me beyond my own limits with what I like to call “supportive, tough love”. My role is usually to be the voice of reason and rationalize why something might not be the best idea despite the vision she had of how the situation would end.

Some closing thoughts…think about all of my discoveries in terms of your camp, camp community, and the people you work with. There are a lot of important lessons I am taking from this experience that I will hopefully be able to share in upcoming conferences/consultations and hopefully you appreciate the takeaways from our journey.

Professor Dave


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