Gone Camping

Business has gotten so insanely busy that I've been feeling really disconnected from life. Oh, and did you know it's summer? Because with my AC set at a comfortable 72 degrees, I had not a clue in the world.

But what better way to enjoy summer than to head to the beach and spend a few nights camping with family and friends? Trust me, there is no better way.

My family has been camping at Hither Hills State Park in Montauk, NY since before I was born, and the entire family (aunts, uncles, cousins, husbands, wives, boyfriends, girlfriends, cousins, neighbors, you get the point now, right?) has been going for a week every single summer. It's the highlight of our summer, and a guaranteed memory-making trip. Last year was the first year that I ever missed, and despite an intense amount of work with Sincerely, Jackie, I vowed to make it out there for a few nights this year. Plus, Mike and my ten year dating anniversary fell on the Saturday while in Montauk, and I can't think of a better way to celebrate our relationship than laughing besides our family.

Most people are shocked to hear that I enjoy camping, but I have to clarify and say that it's not the pee-in-the-woods type of camping. Hither Hills is perfectly situated on the sandy beaches of Montauk, Long Island - also known as "The End" due to the fact that it's the very last town on all of Long Island (or, as some people prefer to say, it's "The Beginning"). Regardless, it's a beautiful beach community with great food, awesome sandy beaches, majestic sunsets, and a rich history. The campsites are all lined up on flat land just a stones throw from the beach - imaging sleeping outdoors under the stars, listening to the waves crashing all night. See, it's pretty special.

This year, in particular, was a special one because almost ALL of my 12 cousins (plus their boyfriends, girlfriends & fianceés) were there together. We're a close knit group, and consider ourselves just as much friends as we do family, so spending this much time with them is a blast. We pretty much let our hair down for the weekend and just be us. We have zero, zero, zero cell phone service, so we entertain ourselves by lounging on the beach, going for walks,  , playing outdoor games (cornhole & kan jam, HELLO), beach volley ball, eating (duhh), and gazing at the stars around a campfire.

That's my dad, above, in his full-blown camping uniform. You've never seen such an awesome combination of cornhole plus plaid pajama pants, crocs, and cigar in your whole life, have you? And I bet this photo makes you wish you were with us. Yea, we're pretty awesome and we sure know how to make the best of what's around.

We're also always the most patriotic camp site - you can always spot our site by the flat that ceremoniously goes up on day 1. In fact, we have people that come to visit us while we're camping, and they never ask us for directions or for our campsite number, they just enter the park and look for the flag.

In the past we've always roughed it in actual tents, but as my Poppy (grandpa) has gotten into his 80's, we all chip in to get him an RV so that he doesn't miss any of the camping fun. Unfortunately, Poppy wasn't feeling well this year, so he didn't stay the night, but rest assured that we made good use of that RV anyway. In fact, we set it up to block the wind for the site, which made our nightly campfire & lawn games a whole lot easier.

Mike and I were there for only two nights, and I honestly wish I could have stayed another night. But, with a huge amount of work to tend do, and a true hot shower calling my name, I am happy to be back home an in the swing of things. And to say the weekend was all play and no business would be a lie - two of my cousins have significant others with entrepreneurial blood, so the campfire chatter often moved toward business ideas and brainstorming. In fact, an idea my cousin's boyfriend had is a brilliant one, and one that I can't wait to implement for Sincerely, Jackie. See - fun & business can mesh!

Oh, and if you're heading out on a camping trip of your own, Cyd over at the Sweetest Occasion has put together a fabulous group of camping essentials. As a yearly camper, I can vouch for everything on her list, and I officially want the t-shirt she has featured! So cute!

Anyway, I leave you with just the above iPhone photos (I was too busy roasting marshmallows to take pictures), and a ton of memories, until next year when we do it all over again.

Do any of you have yearly trips that you hold dearly in your heart? I would love to hear about it!