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At a brisk 92 degrees we were sweating as we set up our tent. The Backyard Campout was our idea after all, but holy smokes it would have been great to receive a reprieve from the Texas weather. 

My husband, Jahmicah, and I both share the goal of getting people outside. We want folks to feel comfortable in the outdoors and sometimes, that starts in the backyard. We have to learn how to adventure close to home before we can adventure away from home, and we fully believe that because it is true in our lives and it’s something that we are trying to put into action with our kids as well. Usually that’s great, but we had recently experienced a much needed rain, which brought the mosquitoes out in full force. It was also hot and sticky outside which is not my ideal camping weather believe it or not. 

Once we got our campsite set and sprayed with our Sawyer gear spray to keep the mosquitoes at bay, we let the boys come out. They were buzzing with energy and excitement and babbling non stop about who would bring what “stuffie” (also known as stuffed animal) to sleep with them in the tent. Buzz Lightyear was a hot contendor. Inexplicably, Buzz Lightyear is not a “stuffie” but a hard, plastic toy that we all tried to avoid rolling over all night.  

We ate one of our favorite camp meals, meatloaf sandwiches, and played outside. Throwing the ball for our basset hound Bill Murray to play “betch”, also known as fetch. This game of “betch” is just as funny as you think it is, with Bill tripping over his ears and squeals and giggles from the boys. 

When the night started to wind down, we climbed into the tent and read two nighttime favorite stories and settled down. Here’s the thing: I had an image in my head of sleeping peacefully by myself as a breeze swept through the tent and I listened to the locusts chirp. The reality was I avoided rolling over too quickly so I wouldn’t summon a “To Infinity and Beyond” from my cot-mate Buzz while also pulling sweaty, sticky, toddler arms from around my neck most of the night.


When we woke up, it had cooled off and was a beautiful morning. I lay there and listen to the birds chirp and the boys breathing deeply, and I couldn't help but be so happy we had our backyard adventure. It wasn't the first time we'd done this, and it wouldn't be our last, but it was maybe our most inconvenient. In addition to the weather conditions, we had been so busy the weeks leading up to the campout. We gained a new niece, which meant that we lost our shop manager to maternity leave, (is that why they say don't hire your family?) which resulted in more work for us in the shop and we had multiple tasks and duties crop up during the weeks leading up to, including a broken arm for our oldest child that required surgery, doctors appointments, and care.

But, in spite of the busyness of the days leading up to it, I laid there that morning so grateful that we took the time to go on an adventure, even if it was small.  

It's easy to get caught up in the optics and specific ideals of adventures. We take stock of our time spent outdoors and match it up to some self inflicted rubric. However friends, I would say to you, there is no rubric. There is only you (and those you hold dear) getting outside.

All it takes to be outdoorsy is to go outdoors and we accomplished that on our miniature, sweaty, camping trip.

I would venture to believe that you accomplish that too, in many ways, and in many circumstances even if it's just a walk around your neighborhood or an afternoon spent at your local park. 

When the boys began to stir I offered them their preferred breakfast, waffles (made inside of course because that's a perk of camping in your backyard) and they were happy. Our oldest son said, "Mommy, I'm glad we spend the night in the camping. That was fun. Next time, I'm going to ask Awpaw to come." That is how we introduce people to our passion for the outdoors and see that passion spread. Little adventures, turning into big ones and bringing along new people, even if it's your grandpa.


October 3, 2023

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Heather Dawes

Heather is known around the Slim Pickins Outfitters as "The Boss' Boss". While she would say that's not true, everyone else disagrees. She sometimes plays the role of producer, getting Jahmicah to meetings on time, managing the family calendar, setting up marketing opportunities or brand partnerships. She loves working for SPO but more importantly, she loves the people that work for SPO. Often she's found wrangling the two boys, Si & Fi, reading, or watching NBA basketball (her first love).

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