Menu Close

PTCD: Post Traumatic Camping Disorder

family camping

This last weekend was our annual Church Campout. This is a family tradition that we have been enduring enjoying since 2003. Okay, we missed a few years when our church plant happened, and no one planned the campout. But we have never missed an actual campout. I love camping as a family, I really do.

(Really, Chuck)

This campout we had a brand new experience. Rain and a burn ban at the same time. That’s right, my friends, not only was it raining, but due to our recent wildfires, we weren’t allowed to have a camp fire. That made this trip a bit…challenging and character building. Well, everyone but me got to build character. I was on call for a birth, and there is no phone reception at this campground. I spent Friday evening, all day Saturday and Sunday morning with my family, leaving every two hours to check my phone (I had this prearranged with my client) and spent the evenings warm and cozy in a house. 

But, you know what I mean. 

What’s so bad about cold, damp air, sleeping bags, chairs, tents, food, etc among friends and family?

I recently read a meme on Facebook (what do you mean those aren’t completely accurate???) that said: “For those of you who have trouble sleeping researchers say that one week of camping without electronics, resets your biological clock and synchronizes our melatonin hormones with sunrise and sunset” . Sounds perfect, right? Who wouldn’t want that?

Well, people who live in Alaska, for one…

Where the heck did they do this study? The equator? Tonight, in Anchorage, Alaska, where I was born, the sun sets at 10:51 PM and rises at 5:19 AM. That is 17 hours and 31 minutes of daylight…that leaves, what, 5 hours and 29 minutes if “night”? 

Or consider Kotzebue, Alaska, where I spent several years of my childhood: 

sunset screenshot

While I’ll admit I could probably accomplish much more if my biological clock where synched so I could stay up 24 hours a day…I somehow don’t think that is a particularly healthy sleep cycle…and I am absolutely sure I don’t want my children staying up 24 hours a day.

And lets be honest, shall we? If you have ever camped with children, you know they stay up extremely late and wake excrutiatingly early.  Painfully early. When the sun in shining directly in your tent (or rain is pouring down) it is hard to sleep. And speaking of hard: the ground is hard.

Next month we are going camping for a whole week in Oregon…I’ll let you know how well it does of resetting our sleep cycles.


One thing that would likely help decrease the stress of camping with children, in planning ahead. The church campout started Friday afternoon. I woke up Friday morning and didn’t even have a meal plan for the weekend. But I’m pretty sure I’ll save that for another post.



As I said on my Facebook page, my children are suffering from a severe case of Post Traumatic Camping Disorder. It is characterized by:  emotional outbursts, irrational anger, unrelenting hunger and lots of

There is no known cure for Post Traumatic Camping Disorder. The only course of action is to ease back into life, showers and laundry and good wholesome food.

And time. Lots of  


If you suspect you or a loved one are suffering from  Post Traumatic Camping Disorder, leave a comment on this post. It might just give me the courage to go on.



  1. Anna

    I’m pretty sure PTCD is why my husband refuses to camp with anyone under the age of six. Eight kids in 14 years means I haven’t gone camping since he proposed to me.

    • bakersdozenandapolloxiv

      Slacker, *I* had 8 in 9 years ๐Ÿ˜‰ Seriously, it it is a bit crazy to camp with little kids. But what great memories…

    • bakersdozenandapolloxiv

      Ha! My whole family was thrilled you didn’t deliver during the campout. More time with mom. That baby is going to fly out when she decides the time is right!

      • Kaylee

        I’m happy too (for you and your family) that you were able to be there almost the whole time! We are so ready to have this baby!

  2. kate

    When I asked a good friend, a mom of adult children, and veteran camper for advice on camping with a young child she said “don’t “. Our daughter was 2 when we took her camping for the summer solstice festival. She never slept. It was grueling.

    I blame a lifetime of insomnia on the four years I lived in Anchorage. In WNY we have blackout curtains in the kids room since summer nights are long.

  3. Dorothy

    I used to like camping, when I was a kid and mom did most of the work. ๐Ÿ™‚ Hubby suggested we go camping in NY state at a state park near where his nephew gets married in a few weeks. We all know how that goes. “let go camping” means (Wife), “please make the reservations, buy all the food, pack all the stuff and have everything ready when (Hubby) I get home from work. ๐Ÿ˜›

    21 year old will not come with us this trip, as he doesn’t want to miss work. At least he can take care of the pets so we don’t have to board them.

  4. modeejae

    Is it wrong that my favorite part of this is that it was you and not me?
    I remember camping as a kid. My dad was a cowboy in Northern Idaho and he was moving cattle all around the mountains all day while my mom and I played games and I ran through the fields. We lived in our camper in the woods for the entire summer only coming to town to restock supplies. There was only one of me, not 10.

    Bless you and your adventurous heart for making these memories with your kids.

  5. Aurora

    Oooh yeah! I was in a scouts-group as well, so we went camping every year – and I still love it (a miracle!). I always came home sick, dirty, tired and stinky. After a very bad camp my Mum was shouting at me “If you ever come home stinking again like this you will have to come in naked and drop your clothes outside!” Thx, Mum… :o)
    We always had several burns (fire), sun burns, sick kids. At one camp one kid was accidently swallowing ethyl alcohol (we had a few fire spitter) but he was fine.

    I had a very bad experience with my husband once: We camped in Canada, New Zealand and Australia and LOVED it. In Australia we camped one night at a very lonely place somewhere in the outback. During the (early) night there were others coming but they stayed as far away as possible and didnยดt even say hello (very strange for Australians). During the night they circled our van, just stood there and watched. We both woke up, reached for our (big) camping knives and stared back. They went away, the next day there were gone – and the fireplace was a mess. Spooky!

  6. Sunny

    Alaska girl here, you are so right, i havent slept since May! Haaa Not much of a camper here either. Did some cabin camping this Summer and considered myself a real pioneer. Until my kid got sick….i had us packed and into a hotel within the hour!! ๐Ÿ™‚

  7. Heidi Wilson

    Where in Oregon will you be camping? Have I told you I lived in Oregon from age 4 until I was 25 and left for Australia??

  8. Barbara

    Just endured a 3 1/2 day, 3 night cabin campout (outhouse, no running water, generator for small portable a/c unit which mostly just kept the humidity down). After about 2 months of what seemed like never ending rain and never beginning summer, we decided a trip to the cabin would be…a good thing? I love my cabin (it’s where I lived before I met my dear husband), until you add a barking/running off dog, a cat who sleeps all night at home but stalks everything in sight in the tiny 16 x 24 cabin every hour of darkness – then sleeps all day, a child with a painful earlobe (thanks to sibling with hard billed ball cap and a hard right hook), a cap slinging child with an attitude, sweat doused husband who has to (no gets to) go to work, 90 degree weather, wife who can’t handle anything above 80 degrees…and you have…Tahdah! Memories made !! The kids and I actually met dear hubby at home with pizza (he stops there to shower after work -lucky dog- then meets us at the cabin about an hour away.) It took a whole 2 minutes for a decision to be made that the oldest child and I would go back and pack up the stuff and come home…in 90 degree weather, this is no small fete believe me: animals, clothes, food, bikes, go-kart, stubborn trailer hitch, generator. It’s crazy, but I still love my cabin!!! We will probably continue to feel the effects of PTCD this time next week. Yep, two kids were enough on this trip, can’t imagine more than that.

  9. Jules

    Four days camping with just one rest day before school starts is the best way to forestall PTCD! The kids being so hyper and insisting they want to live on the camp grounds was tempered with the excitement of going back to school!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.