RV Snapshots

A motorhome works best for this family of four

The challenge of potty training on the road led to a change from truck and trailer to a motorhome

motorhome in a campsite
Campsites that allow them to back in and stretch out are the one Kelly and Chris like the best. — Photo courtesy Kelly Boreson

Based in Medicine Hat, Alberta, Kelly Boreson and Chris Charland and their two young children have made the unusual move of buying a 36-foot motorhome instead of the standard truck and trailer units most young families purchase. Read why Kelly said it’s the best solution for them.

How long have you been avid outdoors people?

Prior to having kids, Chris and I did a lot of camping on the job and off the job. We have tented in 40 centimetres of snow on a Thanksgiving weekend at Liard Hot springs. We introduced ourselves to hard-walled camping by purchasing a unique 1964 Streamline trailer.

What type of RV unit do you own now?

A 36-foot 1998 National Tropi-Cal.

Is that your ideal unit? 

We would love to move to a Class C motorhome with back bedroom, two bunks, overhead bed and sofa sleeper to accommodate everyone who travels with us. Up to now we often have four adults and four kids stay in the rig with no problems, but the kids keep growing so now they are fighting for floor space with the dog at night. We no longer can put them all on the kitchenette sleeper.

Why did you switch from a truck and trailer to a motorhome?

We moved to from a truck and trailer to an RV when we dealt with car sickness and toilet training with our first son.  No one likes trying to stop a truck and trailer on a narrow shoulder of a highway with cars and semis whizzing by so fast that the trailer is rocking. To alleviate the unwanted stress of having to go through all the unwanted and sometimes scary roadside stops with our second child, we decided to take the plunge and try RVing. In 2010 we purchased the Tropi-Cal and I don’t think we will ever look back to any other form of hard-walled camping.  I absolutely adore my home on wheels.

What do you get out of your RVing experiences?

Camping to me is reconnecting with the outdoors and brings peacefulness to my soul. Having worked for many years in the environmental field in a variety of locations in western Canada, it is hard to going from experiencing the peace and awe of the wild everyday to going only outside the confines of the school year. I love that I can share my passion of the outdoors with my kids by showing them our amazing and diverse landscape from coastal rainforests, boreal forest and rugged mountains to the rolling that plains that western Canada has to offer. I hope that by sharing with them these natural wonders that they will grow up with a positive respect and love for the world around them.

How does the rest of the family feel about it? 

The rest of the family is not as sentimental or determined to make everything a learning experience as me. Chris believes that RVing brings to the family a sense of bonding and relaxation. This is where our extended family meets to create special memories that will last a lifetime. Being free (that is, free from school) is our eight-year-old’s favourite thing about camping and playing is what camping is all about for our youngest, aged four.

What have you learned along the way about RVing as a family?

Both of our children experienced their first camping trips when they were between two and three weeks old. The challenges that we have faced the most with taking kids camping is not from the kids themselves but from our expectations of things we would like to do. Scaling down our expectations have included things like taking many rest breaks and to relax when driving to our destination; it is a journey, not a direct A-to-B mission.

We used to go on four-hour hikes but now we enjoy a 20-minute to one-hour hike (animal/bug hunt, scavenger hunt, geocaching adventure). We have learned that kayaking is a 10-minute activity amongst a hundred other 10-minute activities during the day. We have accepted that the minute we sit on a lawn chair to relax we will hear “Mommy or Daddy..." 

We have learned that making mud pies and drinking from the dog’s water dish is way more fun than sitting in a bike stroller for a two-hour ride. We adapted a bike trailer to work on hiking trails to haul the kids. Chris has done many hikes with one child in a backpack carrier while I have hiked with the other child in a front carrier and a camera case on my back to even out the load.

We have learned to be well prepared with first aid kits for the numerous bumps and bruises that occur on an hourly basis with two very active boys. We have learned that just hanging out at the campsite is where the action really is. That running around playing army or making imaginary forts is contagious and brings out the kid in everyone!

What makes for the perfect RV spot for you? 

When looking for our ultimate campsite we are space hogs. We want a large treed but level area where the kids can play and mobility-challenged relatives can move about without hurting themselves. We love a place where we can put out our awning without having to worry about winds blowing it up because we are facing into prevailing winds. We also need the space because we do not travel light. There are four bikes, two kayaks, one rubber raft, nerf guns, badminton racquets, soccer balls, footballs, bocce balls and camping chairs and other miscellaneous toys.

What are some of your favourite places to visit?

Our house is torn on favourite camping spots. The boys like Dinosaur Provincial Park for all the cool stuff to do. Chris loves Many Glacier Campground in Glacier National Park because the campsites were nice, lots of wildlife and the cool rangers in their brown hats. I am torn because I love every place I camp.

What is it about the provincial and national parks that draws you? 

I love that our provincial and national parks have many family and kid activities. The knowledgeable and fun staff that is hired is so special in making lasting impressions to visitors.  We do appreciate these activities and participate when we can, but in areas that do not have such programs we often create our own. We have made impromptu nature art, painted rocks, scavenger hunts and geocache boxes to stash.

Where do you hope to go this year? 

My brother and his kids will be visiting us again and we hope to explore Calloway Park, Waterton Lakes National Park, Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump and Writing-on-Stone Provincial Park. We would also like to explore a bit of northeastern Montana and southwestern Saskatchewan. 

What would your ultimate RV adventure be? 

Given the opportunity we would love to be a full time RVing family. You never know how many great adventures could come your way when you are exploring North America in a rolling home.

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