…….okay, okay, I know it was 97 degrees yesterday and that most of the season we call “fall” in the south is really just summer with pumpkins and apple cider. But…..dang it is after September 1st so to me it’s still fall, and one of our family’s absolute favorite times of the year. Why is that? Because that means that camping time at Tannehill State Park has started. Each year we head to Tannehill right after September 1st and claim our spot for the Halloween festivities that happen the Saturday before Halloween. Yep, our camper will be set up for the next eight weeks. I wish we were able to stay there full time, but that’s not quite in our cards yet. However, we will be there as much as possible.
One of the best things about homeschooling is the freedom to school where ever we are. Over the next two months that might be in the camper, in our covered tent area or even at the furnace ruins in the park. Right now, our breaks will include walking around the campground to check out which campers have come in or moved out. But in just a few short weeks the best walks begin…..checking out how each campsite starts to decorate as we get closer to Halloween Saturday.
Our fellow campers at the park go all out. In the last few years some of our favorites have been the Beetlejuice site (complete with giant worm), a fire breathing dragon, an awesome pirate ship (with a gang plank) and a skeleton football game with cheerleaders sporting uniforms from each SEC school. We always love to walk and see how each site progresses with their decorating. This year we decided to count how many camp ground laps we do per season….I’ll let you know our total come Halloween. But however many we make, it probably won’t be enough to keep all the trips to the Sweet Shop off my scales.
We started camping around five years ago and Collier has absolutely loved it. Kids with autism often like routine and familiar things, and I think our camper gives him that. No matter where we park it, it is always the same inside and he knows exactly where he will be eating and sleeping. It allows him to have secure adventures. If things become a little too hectic in the park (and with thousands and thousands of people there the Saturday before Halloween, hectic is probably an understatement), he can always retreat to the familiarity of the camper.
Another thing I love about the fall camping season is that lots of us campers are “repeat Halloween offenders.” We know so many of the people around us that, in the slower weeks of September and October, he has a safe place to exercise a little independence. With his ever-present walkie talkie, he can ride his bike a little farther from the camper this year than last (still not as far as he would like but we’re compromising). And for the most part camping kids are pretty good kids, so he has made some pretty great friends over the last few years. He also has about three or four sets of “camping grandparents” who keep an eye on him as he rides around the campground.
There is so much to love about our fall camping season……incredible decorations, tons of bike rides, lots of conversations with camping friends, eating too many marshmallows roasted over the campfire, and of course the crazy fun of Halloween Saturday. But my favorite thing about it is seeing just how excited it makes Collier and how he loves coming and being a part of everything that is going on. As long as he continues to love being here, we will make sure he is here…..riding, watching, and just being a kid while he can.