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Camping Queen

Recent Master of Education graduate, Lisa found balance with teaching and taking classes while making her family investment a priority. Enjoy her story about their fun family camping traditions and strategies for adult learning. 

Camping Queen
Our camping tradition is really rooted in my own childhood experiences. After my parents divorced, my dad joined a group called Parents without Partners (PWP), and they led a lot of family events and activities. One of the events was a family weekend camping trip. My dad bought a tent and some sleeping bags and away we went. Some of my most favorite memories from my childhood are from those camping times with my dad and siblings. Eventually, we upgraded to a pop-up camper. It was a cost efficient vacation for our family of 4 children, and we loved traveling to different camping spots!

Years later, actually, the year I graduated from NWC in 2005 with my undergrad, my husband and I bought a tent, supplies, and began our own tradition. It was just the two of us then. The year after our son was born we upgraded to a pop-up camper, and again to a travel trailer the year I decided to pursue my masters. Oh, the luxuries of camping with a travel trailer AND A/C!  It has been a favorite pastime of my family.

Usually, camping is a full extended family experience (my parents, my sisters and their family, and cousins too). I am the “camping queen” to all of them. My sister even bought me a shirt and a tiara to go with it. We plan menus for the whole weekend to help cut down on cost for each family and then we cook and eat as a big family. My husband is the “camp chef” and does an awesome job cooking over an open fire.

Enjoying Summer and Taking Classes
Taking summer courses and enjoying the summer has definitely been possible. I either stayed up late during the week to have my coursework completed before we went camping or used my mobile hotspot to log in at the campground. I also did a lot of work when my son took part in summer programs too. I would drop him off and then go find a place to do coursework until it was time to pick him up.  It makes a big difference that I have summer vacation from teaching. I would go to his ballgames and then come home and do homework when the family was in bed. I also downloaded the Blackboard app on my smartphone, so in route to events, I could respond to discussions. 

Balance and Efficiency  
At times it has been a struggle to find balance while pursuing my master’s degree. I only have one child; I can’t imagine how the juggling is with more than one.  The first semester was the hardest find a routine and balance. Once I had a routine and planned what I was going to do each day then it became a bit easier.  I have a certain task I try to do each day and then use the weekends to get most things finished. I also give myself one day a week off from any coursework. Thursdays are my day to get home from work and I do not even look at my courses. I give myself permission to veg and watch my TV shows. I believe that is important. Many times, I have stayed up after my family has gone to bed to finish classwork. There are also breaks between semester sessions that are a blessing. They give us family time to come back together and refresh. We try to plan ahead for major events so I can get my work started earlier. The professors are always willing to work with you. I am extremely grateful for their understanding on the importance of time with family.

A Support System is Key
Working toward your master’s isn’t an easy endeavor to take on without the support of family and friends. It is important to have a network of people you can rely on and help when things get overwhelming. My husband has really had to step up helping with meals, laundry, and taking our son on father/son outings so I could have time to work quietly.  I heard from many friends and colleagues who said they had regretted not pursuing their master’s degree. I didn’t want to look back on my own life and wonder “what if.”  So I say, “just do it!”

Lisa Farmer M.Ed student

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