Recently, the Buffs took a few days off on the front end of our Spring Break to head south to do some camping in Florida in hopes of warmer weather and sunnier skies. Life doesn’t always happen the way we plan (shocker), and we ended up wearing sweatshirts most of our days. But, when we’re on our A-game, we try to make ourselves be do what you can with what you have kind of people, so we embraced it, windy wind and chill bumps and all.

Now, you guys, I’m not really a souvenir buyer. But, we always manage bring something back from our trips. This time, it was the 4,834 seashells my children kept handing me, along with about five pounds of sand in the floor of our Honda Pilot. And experience. Good, old-fashioned, learned information. So, in advance, you’re welcome for the following…

Leave the crayons at home, whether by accident or on purpose. Bring the ipod or ipad or DVD player or whatever floats your boat for the long drive, but leave some space for creativity once you arrive. The seven year old loves to draw and paint and create daily, but because we forgot her crayons and color pencils, she resorted to making art with the supplies the earth provided. And it’s actually one of my favorite creations she’s made. I wish I could have picked it up and brought it home with us. And I have absolutely no shame in my mom-brag game right now, because this is the cutest bunny of all time…

Let your hair air dry. You’re in Florida. Embrace those beach waves, and maybe even a little frizz. Give it a good brush-through, throw on a pretty dress (or a cute button-up) and rub some salt water in it if you have too. I mean, really, doesn’t salt water and sunshine cure everything anyway?

Get in the cold water. It might be uncomfortable. And by it might, I mean it definitely will be. You’ll freeze. You’ll laugh. You’ll probably even yell a time or two. And if your name is Brooke Buffington, an explicative might even leave your mouth. But, I guarantee you won’t forget it.

Swim with the ducks. You’re already in the water. You’ve already taken that first step. You’re already past that first stage of uncomfortable. The hard part is over. Make some new friends. They don’t mind the chaos or the cold water or the splashing or the cloudy skies. Try some new things. You’re on the path less traveled, friends. Stay the course. And maybe even let the ducks lead the way.

Embrace your inner retiree. I know you think you’re cool. You’ve walked past that shuffleboard court (Court? Is that the right term? Or should we think of something more clever?) a thousand times and you keep telling yourself you can’t even put your name in that game until you’re at least seventy. Well, I hate to be the one to break it to you, but you’re wrong. Dead wrong. Shuffleboard is what’s up. Whether you’re seven or seventy…or thirty-four. Ain’t no shame in that game. And my game is strong…and a little competitive. Especially when a certain ten year old keeps kicking my booty.

I think some folks assume that when we camp, we spend our days rubbing sticks together and braiding hair and gathering leaves to…you know. Yeah, we stayed in a tent…in a campground with running water and showers and electricity and a pool and super fancy shuffleboard.

But, if I could leave you an ultimate camping tip…the camping tip to top all camping advice in the history of ever…just try it. At least once. Rough it as much or as little as you want. The folks at the site next to you might be in a fancy camper or they might be sleeping on the ground under a tarp. It doesn’t matter. To each their own.

This adventure is what you make it. Carve out your own path. Do what works for you and your family. Don’t try to precisely replicate what you read in a blog or see on instagram. Live in your own moments. Make your own memories. And for heaven’s sake, swim with the ducks.

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