A Lesson in History

Camping is a huge part of our lives and along with it comes the opportunity to give our children something they will always remember. I went camping often as a kid, and was able to visit many historic places along the way. I learned about Lewis and Clark at Fort Clatsop, we went to the National Oregon Trail Interpretive Center where there are actual wagon rut tracks still visible on the ground, and I visited Crater Lake one of the most beautiful shows of nature in the world. Both of my parents also learned a lot from their trips around different national parks, from the Old Faithful Geyser in Yellowstone National Park, to Mt. Rushmore  and  Little Bighorn the place of Custer’s Last Stand. The amount of information just waiting to be absorbed is immense. We take our trips as an opportunity to teach our kids historic facts from every place we go.

Before we start out on a trip I do a lot of research to figure out what there is to see and do in each area. Then I decide what we are going to see and start taking notes of important facts about each point of interest. It is almost like the essays we used to have to do in school. I do this for each and every point of interest we plan to go to and I even add some facts about highways we are traveling. There is a lot of interesting history attached to our state and national highways. I try to keep it short and to the point as to not overwhelm the shorter attention span of my kids. I make them read it in the truck as we are driving or shortly before we leave on each trip. Sometimes they groan about having to do it and most of the time I threaten to give them a quiz, though I never do. In the end they end up reading it and when they see relevant things they learned on the way about each place we go they are excited to already know something about the place.

When I make our “pre-trip” reports I simply use Microsoft Word to make a detailed report. I use images to make it more interesting, just like a blog post. I originally was printing it out, 3 separate pages, for 3 kids. I decided however, in this age of technology, that wasting ink and paper was not worth it when I could just send the file to my Kindle Fire. This is what I do now before every trip. I convert each word document into a PDF file and then email the PDF to the Kindle. That way the kids can read it in full color without wasting paper, or losing it. On top of that you then gather nice points of references to each and every trip you go on saved in one spot. Here is an example of one of our pre-trip reports in a PDF file. Family Camping Trip


  • Gather all your information ahead of time from various sources. I find that wikipedia, and historylink are great resources. You can also use a search engine like google, to find information about anything you are looking for. Chamber of Commerce websites for each city have a variety of information about each town you visit as well. You can also go to the website of each location you plan on visiting if they have one(most do in this day and age). Most will have a history section or an about section on their page.
  • Once you gather all your information you start writing your “report”. I try to keep to one page though sometimes that is impossible if it’s a long trip. When your done save your word file.
  • To convert to a PDF you need to have Adobe Reader installed (it’s free). You can download it here. All you have to do once you have reader installed is simply save your word document as a PDF file. To do this go to File(or the windows logo at the top left of your screen)>Save As>Save as PDF
  • There are a few ways to get documents on your device but the simple way is to just email it to your kindle. Each kindle owner has their own email. To find out what your email address is, go to your Amazon account settings, scroll down to digital content, manage your kindle, and then personal documents settings. There you will find your email address(*kindlename@kindle.com)as well as the place to add your email address(the one you plan on sending the document from) to the approved email address list to your kindle. Simply click on the link *add approved email and add your email address.
  • Once that is done all you have to do is email the attachment to your kindle email address and it will show up on your kindle in your docs section.

I hope you enjoyed our tip on bringing history into your camping trips. This country has a rich history as well as so many historic sites open for us to learn about and see. I hope you take advantage of that on your camping trips as we do. If you have any questions feel free to ask in the comments below.