There’s something magical about roasting marshmallows around a campfire, fishing on a quiet morning, taking a hike in the woods, playing in the water, lounging in a hammock, and enjoying some laughs with those you care about.

As you prepare for your next family camping outing, here’s a comprehensive checklist to help ensure you’ve got everything you need for a memorable time. Keep in mind, this isn’t a list for intense backpacking, it’s meant for good, ol’ fashioned campsite camping with family or friends. In fact, this pdf resource contains over 300 items, so you likely won’t need everything listed. But hopefully, it will help you be better prepared for your time in the great outdoors.



My 10-year-old daughter was being questioned by police. Not for anything she did, but for what she witnessed. She recounted what she saw:

I was in front of the school when I saw this red car back up and crash right into the side of a car in the parking lot. The girl standing next to me said, ‘Oh no, my mom just hit a car!’ And then I said, ‘Oh no, your mom just hit MY mom’s car!’ We thought it was kind of funny.”

After giving her statement to police, my daughter looked back to my wife and mouthed, “This is SO cool!”

We didn’t think it was so funny or cool, though. It turns out the driver was uninsured and on oxycontin following a recent surgical procedure. Opting not to pursue legal action, we were left holding the bill for the damages.  Thankfully, no one was in the parked car.

At dinner that night, I asked my daughter why she thought it was cool. With exuberance she revealed, “Because I have an exciting story to tell my friends at school tomorrow!”

In the midst of our frustration, we couldn’t help but chuckle at how whimsical she was about it all.


Actually, everyone loves stories. It’s ingrained in us. From bedtime tales, to motion pictures, to video games, we are constantly seeking out stories in various forms.


As a parent, you get to direct life experiences your child will never forget. You are the chief memory maker of your family. You hold the incredible responsibility to provide memories that will last a lifetime. Stories your children will tell their children and grandchildren about.


It’s been said, “Kid’s don’t remember what you told them, but they do remember how you made them feel.” And people feel by immersing themselves in an experience that activates the senses (sight, smell, touch, taste, and sound). Add in something unexpected, remarkable, or fun and you’ve got yourself an unforgettable memory.


…is to be an active participate in the lives of our children. Give them stories they can’t wait to tell their friends about. Take them on adventures, have them try something new, serve others in need, do a fun project, be creative. It doesn’t take much. It just takes time.

The John Crudele quote rings true, “Kids spell love, T-I-M-E.”  As chief memory makers, we need to remember that and live it out.

Do things together, experience stories together, and make memories together.


My teenage son recently revealed that one of his best memories was when he and I played light saber wars in the dark in our backyard with nothing but the glow and distinct sounds of the light sabers. Who knew something so simple would be so memorable? He added, “None of my friends dads would do something like that.” I want to create more memories like this for my kids.

I’m far from a perfect dad. For a variety of reasons, I’ve missed out on some opportunities I wished I could get back. But rather than live with regrets of what could have been, I’m making it my mission to live with a vision of what could be.

Because here’s what I know…


You don’t want to be left with time you wished you could get back. It doesn’t work that way. And it seems the older your kids get, the quicker the years fly by. As the Trace Adkins song goes, “You may not know it now, but you’re gonna miss this.” You will. So take the time to be there, soak it all in, and enjoy it.

May your family remember it was you who was with them during their most thrilling tales and unforgettable moments.

Go, and give ‘em stories to tell!


Remarkable video of a man providing a sweet treat for his family.

The narrator’s closing remarks would make a fine mission statement for any family man:

“He’s done enough to keep his wife sweet, treat his children, and earn respect.”




Bringing a puppy into the family is a big commitment. It requires work, sacrifice, and a knowledge of how dogs learn.  But for many folks, the companionship of man’s best friend makes it well worth it.

Animals Planet’s show, Dogs 101, gives us some pointers on how to best train a puppy.



If there were a hall of fame for heroes, Johnny Cash would be in it.

Of course, his musical career is legendary and continues to stand the test of time. But what makes him a hero, that special quality he had, was his raw honesty. In his songs, in his story, and with his gritty style.  His troubles are well-documented, but so is his remarkable change.  He serves as a reminder that no matter how far down the road we’ve gone, it’s never too late to turn back around.

What follows are a collection of quotes that speak to what it means to be a man. Let’s learn from the Man in Black himself as he shares some of his wisdom with us.


On being yourself: “To love who you are and what you do, and to have faith in your ability to do it. You’ve got to know your limitations. I don’t know what your limitations are. I found out what mine were when I was twelve. I found out that there weren’t too many limitations, if I did it my way.”

“I’m not talking about ego, and arrogance, and grandiose feelings. I’m talking about self-esteem and confidence. That’s vital: self-esteem and confidence.”


On what his marriage has meant to him: “We have a sharing marriage, and we share the road, we share the bedroom, we share the backstage, onstage, we share the music, the feeling, and the emotion, and the joy of it, you know. And the pain and the sadness of it. We share the love of our children. It would be terribly lonely not to have someone to share those things with me. And she’s not only a lady who I share my life with, but she may have been the person responsible for my still being alive. She and God. Because she came along at a time in my life that I was on self-destruct, and she saw what I was doing to myself and she helped bring me back up out of it. And we’ve fought and worked hard to keep our feet on the ground since then. But like I say, today is a good day.”


On how to succeed: “I could go by a lot of catch phrases like, ‘Know your own self,’ ‘To thine own self be true.’ Self-esteem and perseverance and confidence are all important, but the first thing is to know what you want to do. Set that goal out there and never lose sight of it, and work toward it. And know that there are going to be byways and sidetracks, but keep persevering and keep on, and do what you know that you want to do.”


On what his father meant to him: “My father was a man of love. He always loved me to death. He worked hard in the fields, but my father never hit me. Never. I don’t ever remember a really cross, unkind word from my father. He was a good, strong man who provided for his family. That was his sole purpose in life when I was growing up.”


On the purpose of the human body: “People say, ‘Well, he wore that body out.’ Well, maybe I did. But it was to a good purpose. They should be thankful that I wore it out to the purpose I wore it out and that was writing and recording and touring and doing concerts. Everywhere I could possibly do them that I thought I might enjoy them. I thought people might enjoy me.”


On getting past your past: “You build on failure. You use it as a stepping stone. Close the door on the past. You don’t try to forget the mistakes, but you don’t dwell on it. You don’t let it have any of your energy, or any of your time, or any of your space.”


On his fashion style: “I wore black because I liked it. I still do, and wearing it still means something to me. It’s still my symbol of rebellion— against a stagnant status quo, against our hypocritical houses of God, against people whose minds are closed to others’ ideas. Everybody was wearing rhinestones, all those sparkly clothes, and cowboy boots. I decided to wear a black shirt and pants and see if I could get by with it. I did and I’ve worn black clothes ever since.”


On what advice he’d give to young folks: “Youth shouldn’t be clouded by any chemical or anything. Somebody my age can easily know that too, but youth is too wonderful a thing to mess with while you’ve got it.”

“Children, all your life, you will be faced with a choice. You can choose love or hate… I choose love.”


On how his faith fueled him: “The Bible is the source of the greatest joy. It’s a great moral stabilizer in a world that’s run amok. It’s an anchor for my own conscience, my own mind and my own life. It keeps my feet on the ground. It gives the answer to every problem you’re facing, if you look for it.”

“God loves us. That’s why he created us and gave us free will. Kind of like a farmer watching his chickens to see what they’re going to do. It desires that we all come back to him. That’s the way I think, that’s my God.”

Are there any other words from Johnny Cash that have inspired you?



One tool that has been very useful for me and my crazy, busy life is a time budget.  It helps me align my schedule according to the direction I want to go.

Here’s how it works:

  1. Print out two copies of the time budget.
  2. The first copy is to assess how you spend your time in a typical week. Fill it in and be as honest as you can. Include sleep, tv, work, commute, eating, etc.
  3. After it’s completed, review it and ask, “Is this how I want to spend my time in light of my goals and what’s most important in my life?”
  4. Now, take the second copy of the time budget you printed out and schedule a typical week in light of your goals.
  5. As you do this, let me challenge you to take one day a week and chill.
  6. Once it’s completed, stick with it.  (Life happens, so don’t beat yourself up when it does. But do your best to stick to it).
  7. Every once in a while, repeat this exercise. I find I have to do it every couple of months.

You’ve got one life. Make it count. I hope this helps!


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