Val-deri, val-dera, a-glamping we will go

During these long, beautiful days when green trees sing to sparkling blue waters under sunny skies, our thoughts turn to Ma Nature and how we can best appreciate her warm-weather joys.

Glamping is high on the list of many families, and no, that’s not a misprint. That is the name of the newest camping adventure, aka glamour camping, luxury camping or comfy camping. There are even glampsites, which include such dwellings as bell tents, yurts (circular tents used by Mongolian nomads), Geodesic domes and cubes, tipis, pods, tree houses, safari tents and more.

Prices for these glampsites range from $50 a night to thousands of dollars per night, depending on the level of luxury, and offer amenities such as fresh bed linens, washrooms in situ, food service and private verandas. And of course, their big attraction is access to the panoramic outdoors.

Three area women have been glamping before their manner of camping was even named.

“I first heard the term ‘glamping’ recently, but we’ve been camping in this style for at least 10 years,” said Jennifer Zartman Romano, a Whitley County writer, who added that while she enjoyed the great outdoors, she also liked her creature comforts.

“Our family enjoys glamping in a more nostalgic way, which is part of the reason we have a vintage camper and incorporate activities that would have been done while camping in the 1950s and 1960s. We like croquet, decorating our campsite in a kitschy way, dining outdoors with festively-dressed tables and making an everchanging assortment of pudgie pies on the open fire. Oh, and no trip would be complete without s’mores and campfire tales!”

Because Romano has such happy memories of her own childhood camping “primitively” with her grandparents, she wants to pass on those memories and “great adventure” experiences to her own children.

“I initially planned to purchase a popup camper but when I saw the shiny aluminum campers of the 1940s-1960s, I was hooked! We now own a 1959 silver Avion, which is like a tiny retro house on wheels and showcases my growing collection of mid-century décor. Also, we belong to the Silver Avion Fellowship, a group of Avion owners.

“We’ve traveled with that group to Michigan, southern Indiana and Kentucky – and have also attended some of the Tin Can Tourist rallies. That group really celebrates older models of campers and almost all of them are almost museums on wheels. We love looking at those, but like ours to be a little more lived in and comfortable. Thus, we have modern conveniences hidden inside a vintage look.”

Another glamper is Nicole Harris of Columbia City who credits a magazine called “Mary Jane’s Farm” with introducing her to glamping via online groups such as Farmgirl Sisterhood (

“Four years ago my husband accepted a trade for his 1977 Minnie Winnie RV. It had the original orange shag carpet, dark paneling and all the bumps and bruises you would expect a 1977 RV to have, so my husband gave me free range to do whatever I wanted to do to it,” said Harris, who journals her glamping trips.

“Since we homeschool our three kids, I thought it should become a ‘Girls Only’ project. While we were renovating, I was searching for camper interiors that were done up vintage and girly and that’s when I stumbled across the magazine. We painted everything, sewed new cushions, made curtains and laid a laminate wood floor down. We watched YouTube videos on how to bondo and fiberglass, and we did it all, learning new skills along the way!

“It’s always fun to see the other campers’ faces when we roll in with the Gypsy Soul, especially with our vintage oogah horn!”

Advantages to glamping include no bugs in one’s hair while sleeping, an expanded camping season because of heat, cooling and a solid exterior, and it feels safer when you can lock up, said Romano, who likes sleeping in a “clean, comfy bed.”

“Part of what we didn’t like about tent camping was camping once on a hillside and spending the evening trying to keep from rolling downward!”

Larwill glamper Connie Hawkins is a nail tech and a stay-athome mom who glamps with family and friends.

“We enjoy the comfort of our RV – like being able to turn the heat on when it gets really cold in the mountains,” said Hawkins. “And we love the luxury of eating the foods we like, not the usual camping fare everyone else eats. My husband called my mother once and told her that we had been traveling for two weeks and hadn’t eaten one hot dog or hamburger!”

An unforgettable experience eight years ago involved unwittingly staying at a state park only to find out after they were settled that a big sex convention was in full swing.

“Everywhere you looked people were making out. We just kind of hid in our camper,” recalled Hawkins, laughing.

Finally, Harris summed up the whole glamping adventure as, “sort of living a fantasy – not waiting to use the fine china but celebrating the gift of life today.

“And there is nothing better than getting out in nature and connecting with other like-minded individuals.”

Nicole Harris of Columbia City with her glamped out 1977 Minnie Winnie RV

“It’s always fun to see the other campers’ faces when we roll in with the Gypsy Soul, especially with our vintage oogah horn!” – Nicole Harris of Columbia City with her glamped out 1977 Minnie Winnie RV
Photo by Bonnie Manning, Feature Photographer

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