Shortly after getting married, Cynthia and Jeff Reed planned a romantic weekend camping trip. The Springfield couple packed their tent and other supplies and headed to Mutton Creek Marina & Campgrounds near Stockton Lake. Cynthia had only gone camping once as a child. Jeff was the more seasoned camper of the pair but hadn’t spent a night under the stars in several years. They arrived and set up camp, but soon the getaway turned south. Their campsite was a long walk from the bathhouse, and their neighbors were loud long into the night—not that they were sleeping well, anyway. “The air pump didn’t work for the air mattress I brought, so we ended up sleeping in our lawn chairs,” Jeff says. A decade passed before they attempted anything remotely close to camping again.
These days, the Reeds and their 8-year-old daughter, Cerise, hit the open road with their pop-up Rockwood trailer, the second camper they have owned. It still has the feeling of a tent, something the family likes, but with the creature comforts they desire: two beds, a small kitchen and a heating and cooling system. “We’re hoping that our new camper will allow us to extend our camping season,” Jeff says. Currently, they camp mostly in May through October, hitting their favorite state parks in Missouri and Arkansas, including Stockton and Petit Jean.
When they retire, Cynthia and Jeff dream of camping more frequently and father away, but, for now, they enjoy being outside and escaping from the demands of their daily life. “What I really enjoy about camping is the leisurely morning because whenever I’m at home, there’s always laundry to do, there’s a house to straighten, errands to run,” Cynthia says. “Whenever you’re camping, really all you can do is get up and sit in your chair and be outside and sip your coffee.”
That escapism is one reason Springfield resident Teresa Schroeder joined Sisters on the Fly, an international women’s-only outdoors group, in 2009. “We have three rules: no men, no children and be nice,” Schroeder says. After becoming a member, she bought a vintage trailer that her husband, David, refurbished. Today, Schroeder sports a 21-foot pink Winnebago Micro Minnie trailer and acts as the group’s Missouri wrangler, the go-to source of information for Missouri members.
Sleeping on the ground never appealed to Schroeder. She likes hunting and other outdoor activities but, like the Sisters on the Fly members she knows, hadn’t camped much. The group offers her a way to sleep under the stars with comfort, ease and, best of all, with like-minded individuals. “I mean I have good friends, but man… I’ve made some of my best friends in this group,” Schroeder says. “And our husbands have become friends. It’s just a wholesome way of life, and you get to see nature.” And regardless of your gear, that’s all that really matters.