Family Traditions

The Kelings take on camping in Arkansas


School’s out for the summer, and it’s time for movies, catching fireflies and warm summer nights. For the Kelings this means that it’s time for a family tradition — it’s time to head to Arkansas for their annual camping trip. Although this trip is annual, the Kelings still have to plan in advance.

“Usually [we plan] a couple months [in advance] to allow everyone to request off for work,” senior Emma Keling said.

The Kelings take this vacation as a moment to spend some quality time as a family. Although a nonfamily member went to Arkansas with the Kelings this year, that is not usually the case.

“Usually my mom, my dad, my brother and I go on this trip.” Keling said “This year it was my mom, my dad, myself, and my boyfriend, Ethan. No other families or close friends join my family.”

The main purpose of going to Arkansas and the true family tradition for the Kelings is going camping.

“[My family] went to the Buffalo River National Park, and [we] were on this trip because it was a family camping trip.” Keling said “This year we went [from] May 24-27.”

A captured view during a Daugherty family vacation.

Although camping in Arkansas is now a tradition, it wasn’t always like that. Keling’s dad and brother had gone camping in Arkansas for Boy Scouts. After all the Kelings visited the park, a new tradition was born.

“My dad and brother went on a camping trip through Boy Scouts,” Keling said. “My dad wanted to bring my mom and I back with him, and we fell in love with the camping area.”

Just like the Kelings, the Daughertys used to also have a traditional camping trip. But everyone started to grow up and there was no more time for family vacations.

“We used to camp in Minnesota every year” senior Ivy Daugherty said “The lakes on the Canadian border are beautiful. [But] It’s been like seven years since the last family vacation.”

The Kelings and Daughertys are similar because they treat their traditional family vacations as a m

Posing in their typical hiking outfits, Senior Emma Keling and her boyfriend, Ethan, stand on rocks. The Keling’s favorite thing to do while camping was hiking in Arkansas. “My favorite place to hike is Hawksbill Crag” said Keling. | Photo by Chaaya Minhas

oment to slow down and reflect on their lives together.

“[My family] always all listen to music together on road trips” said Daugherty “My favorite thing is having the time to see the sunset every night. Usually I’m too busy in my normal life to stop and watch, but on vacation, my family always makes sure to slow down and see the sunset.”

Like any vacation, price can be a factor for the Kelings. Other times, something comes up leaving no funds left for the trip to Arkansas.

“[It depends on the] weather or if we want to go on a more expensive trip” said Keling “We have skipped a couple years. [Only] because my brother moved to Montana. We were spending a lot on his college tuition, paying his bills, paying to drive out to Montana and staying in a hotel.”

Once the Kelings are finally on their way to Arkansas, the try to only pack the essentials. Their campground is in the middle of the forest, and they try to pack accordingly.

“We usually take a tent, cots to sleep on, sleeping pads, sleeping bags, hiking shoes, wet shoes, lots of socks, swimsuits, water bottles, cooking equipment for breakfast and dinner, a cooler for drinks, a cooler for meats and other perishable food, and bug spray or sunscreen” Keling said “Our campsite is in the middle of the woods and has multiple spots that you pick from and then pay for.”

The Kelings typically go hiking and would like to go canoeing during their camping trip in Arkansas. At the end of the day, they sleep in the tent that the family brought along with them.

View from a hiking trail in Arkansas.

“Usually we set up the first day we get to the campsite, then we go hiking and sometimes we go on a canoeing trip while we are [in Arkansas]. We usually sp

end some of our time driving around to our favorite hiking trails that have really pretty views” said Keling “My family goes to see this one small town called Ponca and there’s a really good pizza place in Jasper that we really like going to. [At the end of the day] We sleep in the tent we set up on the first day.”

Keling enjoys the campsite her family stays on the most because of its beautiful views and proximity to the water. Keling said she enjoys the fact that her family unplugs from their phones.

“My favorite part about going to Arkansas is the campsite we stay at because it has some really beautiful views, and it’s close to the water” Keling said “I [also] enjoy going on this trip with my family because it gives us more time to connect without constantly being on our phones. [Camping is] probably my favorite family tradition because it’s really relaxing.”