The appeal of outdoor living was not something I cherished when I was younger. My parents’ ideal family vacation was usually spent in Nasugbu, Batangas. I don’t recall ever going on a hiking or camping trip with my parents. I was already in college when I was able to experience hiking for the first time – somewhere in Bulacan.
When I got married, however, I discovered that my hubby is actually an outdoor enthusiast. By outdoor enthusiast, I mean he’s a man who loves and collects tents, coolers and other types of outdoor gear! Yes, he is a man who lives for camping.
Imagine my surprise when we were planning our summer vacation in 2015 with our two children that he was taking us to Caliraya, Laguna. I was already familiar with Caliraya and knew that it had a beautiful lake, but I did not know people went there to camp since there were already a few resorts there. “Oh no,” I said to myself. “Sleeping inside a tent with no decent bathroom in sight?” I asked him. He assured me he would take care of everything (tent, sleeping bags, etc.). Grinning at me, he told me it would be a fun and new experience, especially for the kids.
The name of our campsite was Surfkamp, aptly named since Caliraya is famous for its windsurfing, kite flying, water skiing and sailing/fishing activities.
Taking the Antipolo route (we used Google maps), we passed by the Ortigas Avenue Extension, E. Rodriguez, eventually leading to the National Road and Manila East Road. The travel time was about 2.5 hours to Cavinti, Laguna.
As soon as we arrived at SurfKamp, my children couldn’t contain their excitement much longer and went to the edge of the lake where they saw small fish, tadpoles, and small frogs. Living in the city and having little time to visit parks, it was such a refreshing sight to see them running freely on the grass and spending quality time outdoors to breathe in fresh air. Plus, the scenic view was really breathtaking!
At night, we were mesmerized by the fireflies that hovered above our tents. The sound of the crickets and the water lapping on the edge of the lake were oddly soothing. We were enthralled by the serene surroundings with no sound of cars, television, and other distractions. The no-gadget rule was strictly enforced, except for my husband’s cellphone, which we used to take pictures. That first night of our camping trip proved to be one of the best family moments we ever had.
That is how our annual “camping vacation” tradition began. I was fascinated by camping, to say the least, that I even did some research about other camp sites near Metro Manila: Tinipak Camping Grounds in Tanay, Rizal, where you can rent a tent overnight, and Clearwater Resort and Country Club in Clark, Pampanga, which offers a “glamping” experience.
Since then, we’ve had 5 camping trips! I can’t believe I actually became a camping convert! Sharing stories before bedtime and lying on the grass… It was in those unguarded moments that we were able to bond stronger as a family. As such, I highly recommend camping as a family activity. Believe me: it can be truly liberating.