When my mother was nine years old, her father bought a pop-up camper. His wife thought that the idea of camping for fun was insane, but she and the rest of the family decided to give it a try. One of the places the family took the camper that summer was a campground in New Jersey near the ocean shore called Beachcomber. It was that summer which began a family tradition that has lasted decades. I have gone to Beachcomber every summer since the year I was born, and so has every member of my family. Last week we took our annual ride down to the southern tip of New Jersey to meet my grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins and spend a week enjoying ourselves and making memories.
Beachcomber has a number of attractions in and around the campground. The most popular place to be is the lake, which is surrounded by sand, giving it the feel of a beach. People can swim and fish in the lake or rent canoes and paddle-boats. Next to the lake is a pavilion in which dances, bingo, and other events are held. I go to the pavilion because it is the only place in the campground with free wifi. Situated in the sand are a playground, volleyball net, basketball court, and set of pegs for horseshoe games. My brother and I spend much of our time on the basketball court, and my entire family likes to gather and play a few rounds of volleyball. My uncle and I are the reigning champions of horseshoes; we went four and one this year. Near the arcade and campground store is a place to play shuffleboard, which is a surprisingly fun game. My nine-year-old brother is a shuffleboard prodigy. There are many days when no one leaves the campground because there are so many entertaining activities.
On days when we do venture out of the campground, we like to go to the beach and the boardwalk. The waves at the beach are just strong enough to be thrilling without being dangerous. We boogie-board and build sand-castles with the younger children to keep them entertained. Attractions on the boardwalk include a variety of stores, food vendors, games, and rides. Thankfully, neither the beach nor the boardwalk was damaged by hurricane Sandy. There is also a bike trail and a marina which we like to use. The bike trail is two-and-a-half miles long and makes for a smooth, flat, straight ride. At the marina we can rent a small boat and go crabbing. There are more than enough things to do around the campground to keep us entertained for the week.
More than anything, Beachcomber is the venue for a yearly family reunion. For some of us, that one week is the only time we get to see each other. A few family members even fly in so as not to miss the occasion. Now that I am older and have more responsibilities it has become more difficult to clear my schedule for a week at Beachcomber, but I find a way to get there every year. I hope to continue the streak and make the camping trip at Beachcomber for years to come.