Santee State Park

Santee
The fishing pier at Santee State Park, SC

Our family truly enjoys camping and spending time outdoors. Before Poose and I got married, each of us separately enjoyed camping with our children. I bought an old van that I used with my kids for camping, we’d take our tents and we’d enjoy our food over the open fire. Poose had a big 32 foot camper, with an outside kitchen and all the bells and whistles. It has been interesting for us to meet in the middle in our ideal camping experiences.

One of our first adventures together as a blended family was to Santee, SC.  Poose, PeeWee and Perry had camped there before with Lisa, ( Poose’s former wife, and Perry and PeeWee’s mother)ante before she passed away. They spoke highly of the beauty of the campground. We were attending a convention for the deaf nearby, and chose the Cypress View campground for the duration of our stay. I much prefer nature as my backdrop than the inside of a dingy hotel room anytime.

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The sunset at Santee is breathtaking

I was very impressed with Santee State Park. It is in a very serene setting. There are small walking trails meandering off of the main road of the campground. There are many trees throughout the campground making it feel cozy and unexposed. You can walk along beautiful Lake Marion, see the boats skimming across the water and watch people fishing. There is a pier nearby where we tried our hand out at fishing, but to no avail. There is even a beach type area where the kids were able to wade into the water.

Santee Park does offer rentals of Stand up Paddle Boards, kayaks and canoes through an agency that has a small hut set up there. We did rent a kayak and paddle board for an hour. It was extremely overpriced compared to other state parks where we’ve rented kayaks. The kids had fun nonetheless. It was just our pocketbook that was hurting at the moment. Overall though, the cost of camping with a family of 6 is  much more inexpensive than staying in a hotel, so we still saved money. There is a playground area , and small pier cabins that are available to rent.

The facilities are kept clean for the most part. Like most State Park restrooms, they are nothing fancy, but serve there purpose. We all take our water shoes to wear in the showers. Take your own soap, because there isn’t usually any at the sinks. We found the staff to be friendly and helpful. There is a small store near the pier that also offers a small wi-fi hot spot for those techies in your life.

One great experience we had was meeting some neighboring campers. It was three families together that happened to have children the same ages of our children. We had a wonderful evening together with the adults talking and sharing stories. The children played some pretty crazy card games and listened to music under the stars. It made for a wonderful trip, and we hope to meet up with those friends again. Our kids still keep in touch.

Santee State Park is a place where we camp about 3 times a year. We always enjoy it. Lake Shore campground was sadly destroyed by some flooding and storms, and is still closed. We have found the Cypress View campground to fit our needs. It offers beautiful views, a relaxing atmosphere and affordable clean campground amenities. It’s a great option for family camping.

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XOXO

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We are almost at the end of the A to Z blogging challenge. I have been writing on the topic of unschooling or organic learning all month. I’ve really enjoyed it. Today is the letter X, we could all use some XOXO’s.

I remember growing up and my mom dropping me off to school. I was always willing to offer a hug and a kiss. On the other hand, my brother was not so eager.He was embarrassed at the idea.  I remember my mom feeling crushed as he got older and he wanted his space from her while walking in the mall. It’s a normal part of growth for children to grow up and associate more with their peers and less with their parents. As they grow into young adults, they are preparing themselves for adulthood. This is a normal part of development that usually happens between 12 and 14 years old. They are building their own identity.

So we have three teenagers, one that loves to hug and hold hands, and the other two.. not so much. Her top love language is physical touch, for sure. So she has always enjoyed snuggles, sitting in my lap, and always wanted to be carried as a child. Now as she is growing up I see her still cuddled up close to her siblings to watch a movie and she always gives us hugs goodnight. It’s important to know what kind of physical touch makes your child feel comfortable.
Knowing how to show affection through physical touch is an important part of parenting. It’s essential to know the right way to show physical affection as kids grow older and are resistant to the old fashioned hug. Step parents also need to learn a new way to show physical affection to their step children. Children that may resist and outright hug and kiss, are often open to a pat on the back or a high five. Playful parenting increases the opportunities for physical touch. Perhaps an arm wrestling challenge or a playful wrestling match in the living room will help everyone feel loved. Timing is important for sharing physical affection with your teens, they may not want a hug in front of their peers, but in the privacy of their home they may welcome it.
When spend most of your day with your children, day in and day out, you have lots of opportunities to see what makes them tick. You can pick up on their idiosyncrasies, and preferences. You can find out their love language and do what it takes to make them feel loved on a daily basis.  I think this is another major benefit of home education, or organic learning. As parents it provides us a daily opportunity to learn about our children.

Volunteer

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This month I have been blogging through the alphabet with topic of unschooling, or organic learning. Today we reach the letter V, we will discuss the role of volunteering in a home education.

To give of oneself in service of others creates character. Volunteering is a wonderful way to help your child grow. When children have the opportunity to work out of their comfort zone and work with people of different cultures, and economic and social backgrounds it helps them become empathetic and compassionate. The benefit of volunteering happens in the giving and in the receiving.  They learn how to support those who are less fortunate, in return they benefit in so many ways. Often new skills are acquired during volunteer work that can be used for future employment.

Our children are regularly involved in volunteer work, from the youngest to the oldest. They have worked on building projects, mostly helping feed the construction workers by working in the kitchen. They are also involved weekly in our work with the Deaf community. This has helped our children to be fluent in American Sign Language. They have friends of various ages and cultural backgrounds because of these experiences. This is also a great way to find mentors. 

Another by product of volunteering is gaining self confidence and self worth. Simply put, it feels good to help others. There are many opportunities to build new friendships and meet some incredible kids that are focused on making a difference. Our oldest daughter, Pee Wee, met her current best friend through volunteering. They found they had a lot in common and have been great friends for years now. Recently her friend got to do some volunteer work in Nicaragua. We had her over for dinner last week. She prepared an authentic Nicaraguan meal and told us all about her experiences there with the food, culture and the people, complete with pictures. It was a great learning experience for us all.
There are many volunteer options available. You can volunteer through your church or local soup kitchens. Ask around in your area to see what volunteer options are available. My late husband, Ian, worked for Comcast, which did a lot of volunteer projects in the area with restoring local historical homes. He really enjoyed that work. There are many volunteer opportunities  out there waiting to enrich your child’s life.
What volunteer work have you found beneficial? What kind of volunteer work are your children involved with?