Camping on the New Jersey Shore

Everything Michigan

Camping on the New Jersey Shore

July 11, 2024 Blog Life Travel 0

My childhood was one filled with an enormous amount of love from my mom, an abundance of adventures and travels with my grandparents, and plenty of lifelong lessons learned along the way. One of them was how to put the cost of our candy on my grandfather’s (Papa’s) tab at the King Nummy Campground store in Wildwood, New Jersey. That is one of our favorite family stories to tell around the campfire.

The story goes, my cousin Jeremy and I were about four years old at the time when we racked up quite the candy tab that our Papa was on the hook for. Apparently, our Papa walked into the store to pay his tab for the last few weeks while we were there vacationing, and to his dismay, the bill was ten times the amount he had expected. He asked why. To that, the store clerk replied that his grandchildren had been coming in twice a day, buying candy and saying, “Put it on our Papa’s tab!”. He happily paid that tab but told the folks not to allow “those little stinkers” to put anything else on the tab unless they were with grownups.

Good times.

Another example was learning what not to do around a fire camping on the New Jersey shore. First of all, let me correct myself: I don’t think you can legally have fires on the beach itself. Nevertheless,  our campground was only a few blocks from the Boardwalk, so we just enjoyed our fires at our campsites.

It wasn’t so enjoyable the time my Papa’s old baseball buddy came camping with us, and a fire nearly claimed his life when he stumbled, drunk, falling backward into the fire. That was a hard lesson to witness – he ended up ok after some time recovering but suffered third-degree burns and was in a lot of pain. My cousin and I saw firsthand what could happen if we were not respectful before the power of fire.

That campground was so much fun for us, and while I generally prefer state campgrounds when camping in my home state of Michigan, King Nummy Campground, NJ, is privately owned and offers some perks that we especially enjoyed as kids:

  • The Camp Store (where we had a tab)
  • Swimming pools (where I accidentally pulled my grandmother/Nana’s bathing suit top off in the pool while learning how to swim. Oops, sorry, Nana)
  • Outdoor pavilion (live music and dancing on the weekends and Holidays)
  • Billiards/Game Room (also where we spent a lot of time on rainy days)
  • Shuffleboard (my Nana was more of a Bocci ball player)
  • Our furry family pets are welcome
  • Extremely Clean Restroom/Shower Facilities
  • Laundry Facilities
  • Picnic/BBQ Area
  • Playground
  • Volleyball
  • Basketball
  • Horseshoes
  • Pickleball (ok, so this wasn’t even a thing in the 1970s, but hey, they have it available today!)

Camping on the New Jersey Shore with cabins

Recently, my humble travel trailer, my Catalina camper, was hit hard by a tree, and there was severe water damage in the bathroom, as well as mold growing in that area as a result. Being a single mom, I do not have the money to buy a different camper yet, so on the last couple of trips I went on, I utilized Airbnb, but that cost quickly added up. So, I am looking into renting cabins at campgrounds. I would love for me and my sons to still have the overall camping experience, yet without having to own a camper.

So far this summer, we’ve gone to see family in the Outer Banks, North Carolina, with an Airbnb. We have upcoming plans to camp in Mears, Michigan, on The Sleeping Bear Dunes and to take a Labor Day trip to the Jersey Shore and stay in a cabin.

Here is a list of New Jersey spots to rent a cabin:

  1. King Nummy Campground
  2. Ocean City Campground & Beach Cabins
  3. Yogi Bear’s Jellystone Park Camp-Resort: South Jersey
  4. Four Seasons Family Campground
  5. Sea Pirate Campground
  6. State parks
  7. Winding River Campground
  8. Panther Lake Camping Resort
  9. Wading Pines Camping Resort
  10. Butterfly Camping Resort
  11. Pine Haven Campground
  12. Timberline Lake Camping Resort

My goal is to give my sons the camping experience at King Nummy Campground on the Jersey Shore but in one of their cabins.

From the time I was two months old (or so I have been told), I have experienced camping not just in New Jersey but all over my home state of Michigan, in private campgrounds, State Parks, and National Forest land.

As an adult, I have taken my sons camping since they were only a few months old as well. We have camped primarily on State Parks and National Parks across Michigan. I’m not necessarily a fan of private campgrounds (except for King Nummy) as, in my experience, they don’t have the same standards held at the state and national levels I am accustomed to.

Below are some of my favorite State and National Parks in Michigan to visit:

  1. Huron Manistee forest in Oscoda, on the Au Sable River
  2. Manistee National Forest, Manistee, footsteps from Lake Michigan
  3. Ludington State Park, on the shores of Lake Michigan
  4. Lakeport State Park, on the shores of Lake Huron
  5. Proud Lake State Park, on the Huron River (close to home)
  6. Seven Lakes State Park, for Halloween camping (close to home)
  7. Algonac State Park, on the shores of Lake Huron (great pier fishing)
  8. Burt Lake State Park, on Burt Lake (which connects to the Indian River, connecting to Mullet Lake, which feeds into the Cheboygan River, which leads to Lake Michigan) Great boating and swimming
  9. Mears State Park, on the shores of Lake Michigan, minutes away from world-renowned Sleep Bear Dunes

I am so excited about this summer’s up north plans because, as mentioned, we get to go camping in Mears. We’re planning to ride the dunes one day, see the magnificent Lake Michigan sunset each night, and enjoy some touristy attractions in downtown Mears.

The upcoming trip is the first time I have taken them camping on my own since I divorced their father. It will be an adventure for sure! Thank goodness they are both older teenagers who are strong kids capable of helping their “old” mom.

Camping on the New Jersey shore

So, as you can see, camping has been a cornerstone of my life and continues to shape beautiful memories for my family. Whether venturing through state and national parks in Michigan or heading back to where it all started at the King Nummy Campground on the New Jersey Shore, the experiences offer their own unique set of joys and lessons.

Despite the challenges, such as dealing with my damaged camper, the heart of camping remains untouched: connection, adventure, and family. I’m excited to give my boys a taste of those childhood memories in New Jersey, even if it means staying in a cabin this time.

*Image courtesy of King Nummy Campground