Families can share many things – stories, traditions, support, love – but they don’t always share the same mind. Take the Krafts. Andrew and Colleen have three sons – Aidan, Caleb, and Hudson, ages 14, 12, and 10 respectively. And then there’s Jip, the yellow Labrador Retriever. Each Kraft shares an affection for nature, but arrived at their appreciation of the outdoors in their own way and on their own time.
Andrew grew up with tents and campfires – his parents were school teachers who spent summers with the family outdoors camping and traveling to national parks. Colleen, however, wasn’t raised camping and was slower to come around to fully enjoying the outdoors overnight. Once the Krafts began taking boating trips throughout Georgia, Colleen developed a love for paddling that made the camping portion of the trips much more comfortable and agreeable.
The boys’ interest in nature runs the gamut. One is an active Scout, another is more pro-camping when it becomes a social affair with friends, and yet another relishes outdoor adventures. For Jip, an ideal camping and hiking dog, he just needs to be with his people.
“That’s where the GO camping trailer comes in,” Andrew said. “Because our family spans a spectrum of camping interests, the GO allows those of us who are more comfortable roughing it to camp alongside those who are more interested in glamping it.”
During a recent 6 day/5 night camping trip, Andrew came to appreciate how the GO has enhanced their family time. “Before we would never have camped for 5 nights and 6 days, and it was only because of the GO, its comfort level and the ability to sleep well, that we committed to that length of time.”
The choice to purchase a GO was not one that Andrew rushed into. He compared motor homes, and hard-side trailers, pop-ups, and teardrops. He spent years researching camping options and reconciling those options with how they camped.
“We chose the GO, because the SylvanSport product line allows us to camp in a flexible way,” Andrew said. “Depending on how many of us are camping or what we are doing, we can bring more or less of the GO gear.” As an example, if just a couple of Krafts are camping, they keep it simple and tow only the GO. But if all five are adventuring together they also bring the GOzeebo, which allows them to bunk the boys’ cots for sleeping.
Another priority for the Krafts was finding a simple, efficient and clean way to haul gear. “When you are camping, things get dirty and crowded,” Andrew said. “It is appealing to put dirty gear on the deck of the GO, whereas in a teardrop you put your dirty gear back where you are sleeping. It is also easier to keep things organized which allowed us to camp for longer. Set-up is easy, which reduces my stress.”
Other factors were involved in the decision-making process. Andrew was only interested in purchasing a high-quality product that would stand-up to years of use, especially with the boys. He wanted to avoid the need to purchase a new vehicle for towing (they use their Honda Odyssey) and he wanted something sized for compact storage (the GO slips easily into their garage). Colleen wanted something that was manageable. Her goal was to have something she and the boys could use one their own.
The Krafts have paddled rivers in Georgia including the Flint, Withlacoochee, Satilla, and South Rivers. They have wound their way through the cypress trees and Spanish moss of the Jurassic-like world of the Okefenokee Swamp. Together they have gone snow skiing, hiking, and mountain biking. Colleen and Andrew’s plans are to continue traveling throughout North America with the boys during their teen years.
“As a family we want time and to be in places that will broaden our experiences and give us family memories together.”
The Krafts believe experiencing the natural world is important to their boys’ individual development. Fostering a love of learning and natural curiosity in their sons is a priority. “We want the boys to love what God has created, to prioritize the natural world, and to be good stewards of nature. We believe the best way to nurture an appreciation for the world is to experience it.”
The Krafts also believe that slowing down is important and that boredom is good. A child who pushes through boredom eventually taps into their own creativity. They can grow and develop their own particular interests, becoming centered and confident.
“We want our boys to be great travelers, because there are so many things in the world worth experiencing and seeing,” Andrew said. “It is important for us to take breaks from our daily rhythms, to value nature, appreciate other cultures, and to see things that are different from what they experience. In that way their perspective broadens as they grow into adulthood.”
“As the boys choose what they want to do in their life, then all these things feed into shaping decisions they make, the interactions they have, and ultimately, the choices they make about how they treat people and how they treat the world they live in.”