RVing, Camping with Kids, Creating Content, and Making the Most of Every Moment

By: Megan Williams  |  Photos by: Ashlee Glen

In a warm summer afternoon, a scene plays out that any mother will recognize: Trying to get lunch on the table while keeping a child occupied and happy. But there are some nuances to this particular scene that are worth noting. The mom, dad, and child aren’t in a house—they’re outside with an RV in the background. And they aren’t at home, they’re in a campground. And, the most unusual, Yogi Bear and Cindy Bear—two mascots from Yogi Bear’s Jellystone Park in Natural Bridge—are wandering up to the campsite to help the mom create content for her hundreds of thousands of social media followers.

Erin Graves, the woman behind the brand Campin’ Erin, has been camping on the weekends with her family for the last five years. Along the way, she shares her camping tips, hacks, and product reviews with her over 200,000 followers across TikTok and Instagram.

“Every time we would camp, I’d look at TikTok videos to learn more about the campsite or get camping recipe ideas,” she remembered. “People on TikTok want entertainment or to learn something. So I started posting videos of products we bought for our RV, and the account just grew from there.”

Graves launched her TikTok account in 2022 and has since amassed over 1.5 million likes on her content. An Instagram account followed shortly after and is steadily growing.

“Anywhere we are, I’m making some sort of video, whether it’s food or a product,” she said. “I’m also an ambassador for Blackstone and am often creating food content using their camping griddle.”

Graves and her husband, Charles, were both tent campers when they met. But after they had their son, Walker, they switched to an RV—a Keystone Bullet 290BHS. Their 34-foot travel trailer is decked out with amenities, creature comforts, and clever tools that make their camping trips as efficient as possible. And after countless camping weekends and thousands of miles on their RV, Graves has learned a thing or two about streamlining equipment and experiences so she and her family get the most out of their adventures. 

“We definitely made some immediate changes when we got our camper and others have happened over time,” she explained. “RV mattresses from the factory are awful. We have upgraded our mattress twice, so one went on our son’s bunk bed, because those mattresses are pretty awful too. We added a new curtain rod in the bathroom to give more space so you don’t have the dreaded shower curtain cling while you’re showering. We added towel storage in the bathroom as well to make it easier and save valuable storage space in the cabinets. Most of the changes we made were small—cup holders, lamp shades, baskets for storage.”

Graves also made a curtain for the shelf above their bed to hide anything they need to store, as their Keystone model is the only year in which the brand didn’t add cabinet doors for that area. They also added shelving to their bedroom closets for more efficient storage space, as well as upgraded screen door handles for ease of use and a homier touch.

“A little bit of extra decor inside makes it feel homey, but I don’t do too much because we are just weekenders,” Graves said. “We don’t want to unpack too much just to have to pack it up again in a few days. We keep most of our things in the camper, so when it’s time to camp, we just pack food and clothes and that’s about it. We’ve really got it down these days.”

The interior of the RV is cozy yet minimal, with small accents like custom throw pillows or a travel journal open and awaiting that day’s camping memories. It serves as a comfortable landing pad after the Graves family has spent the day outside and a safe refuge should rain or storms unexpectedly strike.

When finding the right RV for their family, the Graveses prioritized a standard queen size bed for the primary bedroom, standard fulls for the bunk beds, primary bedroom that was separate from the rest of the space, two doors, and an outdoor kitchen.

“We have had eight people sleep in here, which is the most we’ve had. It was…cozy,” she laughed.

They also found the added laundry chute, which drops the day’s dirty clothes into a storage bin below, to be a welcomed bonus. And while they hardly use the TV, there is a DVD player with six or seven DVDs stored up for rainy days. The couch in front of the TV pulls out into an extra bed, and the Graves family will cozy up for a rainy movie night with popcorn.

“We don’t cook inside a ton,” Graves said. “Camper ovens are hard to get right. The microwave actually gets used more than anything else inside. We use our Blackstone griddle for most of our cooking. I have always professed my love for Blackstone on my videos and they ended up contacting me and asking if I wanted to be an ambassador for their brand—immediate ‘yes!’”

Graves said they typically prepare burgers, fajitas, and lots of breakfast foods when they camp, with their son Walker emphatically adding “bacon!” to the list.

While camping serves as a content source for Graves, it’s not the reason why they go.

“There’s a lot of sitting and relaxing,” Graves said. “We usually stay at state parks, which are more secluded. If there’s water we will fish. If there are trails, we will hike. But for the most part, we stay around the campsite. If we have a fire going at camp, that’s the activity—we sit around the fire. After Walker goes to bed, Charles and I will play board games or Rummy.”

The Graveses prefer state parks because of the amenities they typically have to offer, especially opportunities for Walker to meet and play with other kids his age. State parks tend to be more quiet and offer more relaxing camping experiences—perfect for a young family. Graves says their family loves to be surrounded by trees and have more space between themselves and the next camper versus other campgrounds where everyone is more crammed together.

“We love Virginia State Parks,” she said. “We love so many and there are many we still haven’t been to, but we particularly like James River State Park, Douthat State Park, and Pocahontas State Park. Our favorite ‘local’ park is Smith Mountain Lake State Park.”

While the Graveses aren’t full-time travelers, it’s clear their priority is making the most of their free time. And while they’re creating experiences that their son will remember for years to come, Graves will be there to document it along the way.  

Follow along on their adventures on Instagram and TikTok at @campinerin.

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