I was born into a family that was part of the fledgling travel trailer business. I grew up washing trailers, fixing trailers, ordering parts for trailers, managing different departments of my parents RV dealership and eventually, with my wife, owning an RV dealership of our own.
While many wouldn’t consider washing RVs year-round (rain and cold) a gift, I wouldn’t have appreciated moving up in the world if I hadn’t started at the bottom.
As I reflect on that gift I am reminded of many other things that I am thankful for, and as I ponder them I realize they are also gifts I did little to earn or deserve. Let’s take a look.
1. The gift of RVing with my parents and siblings as a child.
2. The gift of a wonderful woman, that would become my wife, that also camped as a child. In fact, our honeymoon was spent traveling in a 27-foot Airstream trailer!
3. The gift of camping with my children as they grew up.
4. The gift of becoming empty nesters, allowing my wife and I to leisurely RV the desert Southwest.
5. The gift of freedom that RVing provides—going wherever, whenever together.
6. The gift of gab, allowing me to speak at RV shows and rallies sharing this great lifestyle. I was very shy as a child!
7. The gift of introducing others to the joys of RVing.
8. The gift of living in a free country with hundreds of thousand acres of public land on which to recreate and camp.
10. The gift of my son-in-law being able to join the RV industry and continuing the family tradition.
11. The gift of witnessing my children continuing the family tradition by purchasing an RV and camping with my grandchildren.
To those of you that celebrate the gift that was given in the manger so many years ago, may your Christmas be merry and full of joy—and for those of you that observe another holiday may you enjoy a joyful time with family and friends.
What gifts are you thankful for this Christmas? Please share in the comment box below.
See also: 6 Gifts For RVers That Keep On Giving All Year Long
Dave Helgeson’s many roles in the RV industry started before he even had a driver’s license. His grandparents and father owned an RV dealership before the term “RV” had been coined, and Dave played a pivotal role in nearly every position of an RV dealership. He and his wife Cheri launched their own RV dealership in the Pacific Northwest. The duo also spent 29 years overseeing regional RV shows. Dave has also served as President of a local chapter of the Recreational Vehicle Dealers Association (RVDA), worked on the board of advisors for the RV Technician Program of a local technical college, and served as a board member of the Manufactured Home and RV Association. Dave’s reputation earned him the title of “The foremost expert on boondocking,” bestowed by RV industry icon, the late Gary Bunzer (The RV Doctor). When he’s not out boondocking, you’ll find Dave in the spotlight at RV shows across the country, giving seminars about all things RVing. He and Cheri currently roam in their fifth travel trailer, with Dave doing all the service, repair and modifications to his own unit.
Pete Miller says
Great column! We started our camping adventures with two kids in 1985 with 1979 VW Transporter and a Colenan Sundome tent. Trips to Shenandoa River and Lake Gaston while stationed in Viginia. While in Canada, Kejmakujic Provincial Park, Cavendish Beach in Prince Edward Island and Gros Morne in Newfoundland were visited. With grandkids, we graduated to a 2006 Coleman Utah Popup and visited almost every Florida State Park within 150 miles of Jacksonville. Payne’s Prairie State Park was a favorite for maximum wildlife sightings. We took our oldest grandson for three days and our tally: wild horses, white tail deer, wild turkeys, bald eagle, alligator, water moccasin, opossum, armadillo and lots of banana spiders. Now we have graduated to a Class C and are starting our retirement dream of seeing the USA! and maybe more of Canada!
Jim Saladin says
Great article, makes me reflect on all the things I take for granted each day.
Safe travels and happy holidays.
Thank You for sharing
Bill Hall says
Years ago while growing up with three brothers and one sister my parents took time to take us camping . Our camping ways were modest as in a home made trailer towed by the family car . We traveled to Florida and met new people there . These moments in time are so precious today . We camped out in Frostproof and Lake Wales area . The friends we made then and now over 40 years later . To be a part of the Church orchestras with music. The many people we met over time and how important it is to travel when you can . There is so much to learn when you do and the memories are so valuable today . I am so thankful to my Mom and Dad for taking us camping for the many years that we had and for the music we shared while camping around a campfire . I travel now with a Casita 17 foot trailer with my small dog Bonnie and it is an adventure.
The memories of camping as a family is so important to meet new people and see new things
That was awesome! We love our “running from the law” life as we call it. So many new friends and adventures. Our children are in BC, NB, and GA. Our moms are in NL and ON. Best friends in NL and ON and awesome friends and family in Ecuador(no we haven’t driven there yet) so our nomadic life suits us very well!