Adventures of the Yellow School Bus | "Go Make Memories!" | Text and Photos by Candice Granger

We used to camp every year when I was growing up.  Inks Lake, just outside of Marble Falls, is where we would frequent every summer up until I was 13. I learned a lot in one week each year. I learned how to swim in that lake and I gained enough courage to jump off a cliff at that lake. I fished, skied and watched my parents, aunts, uncles and grandparents cook, laugh and tell stories around a fire. I think I might have even tasted my first beer at Inks Lake (now that I am a parent, I think that was a bit young!) But that time spent with my entire family gave me confidence that enabled me to spread my wings and fly into adulthood. They gave me a sense of belonging and made me feel like if I failed at whatever I was pursuing, I would I have a safety net of “the family” to fall back on. Of course, I didn’t know that at the time. I thought everyone had a ginormous family that loved them and got together every Sunday and played Bunco once a month. Now that I am all grown up I realize, geez, how lucky was I?

At thirteen we stopped camping. Death always puts a damper on summer vacations, our family was no exception. I don’t know all the details. They never let me, the youngest, know all the details. All I know is that those fabulous summer camping trips stopped and the family gatherings weren’t as frequent and rowdy as they once were. I still, to this day, can’t figure out what really happened. Maybe I am better off not knowing.

Jump 20 years. Now I am 35, married to an awesome guy with 2 sweet little kids. I look at them and I want them to know that family that I knew growing up - the camping trips, the Bunco parties, birthday parties and Christmas Eves. I want them to know their cousins like I knew my cousins. I want camping! I looked around and realized that now I am the grown up. I am the same age that my parents were when we went camping those summers long ago. If I wanted my kids to have those same memories, I needed to make them happen. So I did. I called the entire family up and said, “Wanna go camping? How about Inks Lake in August?” They all agreed.

Candice and the Kiddos

After the cabins (everyone is older now and not willing to sleep in a bag on the ground in a tent) were rented, I started to have my reservations. I was a little worried. Every family has their drama. Would our family be able to make it through a camping trip? My cousins had teenage kids that really haven’t been camping before. Would they have video game withdraws and be on their phones the whole time? I think that would have killed my soul a little. I wanted good quality family time. I wanted laughing, floating, fires and s'mores. I wanted cliff jumping, floaty wearing and late night talking. I wanted a cousin to drink too much and someone fall asleep in their chair. I wanted to feel those little fish nibble on my ankles and see my mom laugh so hard that she cried.

I got it all. Seriously, even those little fish bit my ankles.

The best part for me was to see my cousin’s teenage kids love it so much. They actually said, “We better do this again next year.” Oh my, I almost cried. And like I said before, I had my reservations. I thought maybe camping was a dying breed’s pastime. You hear so much about the media, technology and the new generation being so connected. Could a fishing pole really entertain them? I really, really hoped that we weren’t too late. Even though they are already teenagers, could family camping trips still give them the confidence they need to go out into this crazy world and feel like they have a whole team on their side and not just their parents? I hope so because they do.

We had a wonderful, wonderful time. Plans for the Harless Family Camp 2016 are already on their way. I believe t-shirts are being made. I plan on making up for lost time and making new memories happen for every generation. Our family has lost wonderful people this past year, which only reminds me that there is no time like the present. So, for the Harless Family, go and camp. Call up those cousins and make a date. You don’t need a tent or an RV, they have cabins. No excuses. Go show your kids and grandkids that you know how to swim. Go make some memories and share experiences that will shape their future. Maybe we will see you at Inks Lake next year. 

We will be the rowdy family next door.

Candice Granger and her super cute brood call home (and art studio!) to a 16+ acre homestead in Gonzales County. They live in a converted yellow school bus with a large cast of furry characters including sheep, goats, chickens and 1 sassy donkey named Choncho. Candice focuses her many talents towards 'healthy and homemade.' Candice is an artist, home-schooling teacher & mother, and partner to her potter husband Jim Bob.

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