view of Elk River surrounded by trees at sunset River Ranch Resort Noel, Missouri
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How to unplug and create memories!

When I was younger, my family would go on camping trips multiple times a year. It is one of my fondest memories. We would all have our specific jobs once we arrived at the campsite. Mine was setting up the inside of the tent. I would air up all of our mattresses, make all of the beds, and set up our own little areas inside the tent. My mom would always say “what would we do without our interior decorator?” We all had so much fun every time we would camp. There is something about getting out in nature, where you have no responsibility, no screens (although in my day there was not an alternative), and no plans. I feel as though camping is a lost treasure sometimes. In this day and age when you are always trying to keep up with all of life’s demands, it is exhausting and honestly unobtainable. You deserve to breathe, unplug from all of those demands, and make simple memories that make big impacts. I took some time to write down some of my most favorite memories from camping as a child.

1. No screens and no toys

I am a 90’s baby so I remember life before the screens were so accessible, and honestly find myself wishing we could go back to that time more and more often. My husband and I have two young boys and are constantly trying to immerse them into nature and the small things of life. We recently took a trip to a remote cabin with no service or wifi. We told them they were not allowed to bring any toys or screens. They thought we were crazy but what happened was they only had each other. There were no toys to fight over and there were no screens to occupy their time. So they explored. They hiked, they played hide and seek, they used their imagination. We are not perfect by any means and definitely have two tablets and two Nintendo switches, but take my word for it when I say, take the time to take them away and show them what their imagination can do.

2. Rise with the sun

I definitely like my sleep and I slept in most camping trips as a child, but I specifically remember many times waking up early while there was still fog lingering in the air, snuggled up in a blanket, sitting by the warm fire. There was something magical about waking up with the sun. I can still smell the campfire smoke, mixed with my mom cooking bacon over the fire, and my dad’s coffee brewing in his percolator. It felt so pure and magical. So I am here to tell you, wake up early, build a small campfire, brew some coffee and take some large deep breaths as you breathe in the morning air. Listen to the birds chirping, the squirrels rustling through the leaves, and the feel the magic of rising with the sun.

3. Go fishing

My family would always go fishing whenever we camped. Most of the time on a boat but sometimes off the dock as well. I was not a patient fisherman, if I hadn’t caught a fish or even had a bite within 10-12 times of casting I was closing up shop. As I sat there though watching everyone else, I thought “What if I’m missing out on a fish right now?” So I would grab my pole and try my luck again. Many times I would catch something if I gave it a few more tries. The excitement of the fishing pole quickly pulled down, the feeling of the fish swimming so fast against you, and the anticipation of “how big will it be?” sinks in. You finally get to the finish line and It is so exciting to feel the adrenaline of catching a fish. Give your kids a gift and take them fishing. Teach them to fish, teach them to remove the fish from the hook, let them hold it and take the picture. They will remember catching their first fish, I guarantee it.


One of my favorite parts of camping was the amazing food. We had some meals that we only ate while camping. We always had bacon and cheese biscuits. My mom would wrap the biscuit dough in foil and set them over the fire to bake. Biscuits over a fire are next level! We always had fried potatoes for dinner, which were such a treat because we did not get them at home very often. It made them that much more special. One other thing my mom always made were foil packets. She would wrap potatoes, onions, and andouille sausage in foil, and cook them over the fire. Trust me when I say, using a campfire to cook your food, is the way to go. Food may seem strange to be in a blog about “How to unplug” but as I sit here and write this blog, memories of how wonderful it tasted, the cool and unique ways my parents cooked the food, and sitting at a picnic table enjoying it, still make my heart warm all these years later. People connect over food and I can tell you that is why I have these special memories. It may take longer to do It this way, but try and make it a special experience on your next camping trip. If you’re unsure on where to start, there are tons of recipes and how-to’s on the internet.

I understand not everyone has these fond childhood memories like I do, but it is never too late to start them with your own children. It may take a few times of camping to get the hang of it, but you will start to unwind faster each time you go. You will also give your children the gift of memories, that will never leave.

River Ranch Resort is the most serene during the week as there are much less people here, and you have so much of the area to yourselves. I love walking through the campground and seeing families making memories, connecting with nature and each other. I urge you to book a trip this summer or fall. We can’t wait to see you!

Written By: Marlinda Shurback (Owner)

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