How We Became a Camping Family {And What I Learned Along the Way}

Chustz Campers :: Part 1How We Became a Camping Family {And What I Learned Along the Way}

In July 2020, Chustz Campers officially began. Just two parents, one child, and a camper … aka “BIG BUS” by our two year old.

We decided to purchase the camper for an investment and for us to spend more time together … at the hunting camp in Oakdale … AKA Okie Dokie. Andrew, my dear hubby, has been a part of this hunting club since 2017 right when we found out we were expecting our new baby.

After our purchase, we decided to test it out two different times in August 2020. 

  1. KOA in Scott 
  2. Hidden Pines in Egan 

Both had different experiences, but all-in-all, we learned one thing … camping is hard work! 

Also, it’s not perfect and something always breaks.

I say camping, but I really mean glamping. We have AC, running water, a comfy bed (yes, we switched out the mattress right away), and the comforts of home even through somewhere around 100 square feet.

Our first experience at KOA 

Not much to say about that experience. We had fun despite a two-year old. We ran into a few people we knew and were close to home, which was a plus since we were starting the school year and I was a first grade teacher going back to work after COVID-19. 

Let’s see, to start we had a full day of work and a full day of daycare for the little guy. We were close to home so we packed fast and left. We forgot a little… OK I won’t lie… A LOT of things. We were only about 10 minutes away from home so we went back for a few things, but that wasn’t a deal breaker. Chustz Campers :: Part 1

August in SOUTH LOUISIANA. It was HOT, but not as hot as this AUGUST 2023. Our campsite was not the best “baby proof” site. It was nice, but not level and right next to a little cliff into the lake. This momma is always paranoid, so this made my heart worry more. Also, to add to this, it was interesting changing a baby boy’s diaper on the top bunk (his favorite place), but we made it work. One other thing, we had to do a quick “restart” mid Saturday. We ALL took a power nap and tried to recharge and make the best of our first trip. 

Oh, I forgot about the ANTS! How could I forget? Haha, Buggy boy (Brody’s nickname) loved being outside in nature and was in awe of the bugs, trees, and the lake. That’s all that matters, right? All for our kiddos and making memories Chustz Campers :: Part 1

Lafayette KOA has been around for a while, but this was the first time for us to visit together. 

We used to rate all our camping adventures, so it is only fitting this teacher mom brings that back. I would rate our trip a C. Just average, we learned, we made memories … most of all it started the Chustz 3: Camping Adventures. We will be back, just not sure when. We like to explore all that Louisiana and nearby states have to offer, so we are just adding to our list right now.

A whole different experience at Hidden Pines Chustz Campers :: Part 1

A few weeks later, we decided to go to Hidden Pines in Egan. Still in Louisiana, just a short trip down I-10. This was a whole different experience, and it turned into a really great trip. We were prepared; somewhat experienced, even with just one trip under our belt, and the weekend seemed to go smoother. We actually met up with some work friends that turned into camping friends, who are now like a second family to us.  

We planned this together since we were both working at a local school in Scott, La. She brought her niece and nephew and dogs so Brody had a few playmates, which helped a ton when the parents wanted to relax. 

Glamping suddenly became fun.

Chustz Campers :: Part 1

This campground offers 2 pools, a double water slide, and they’re really family-friendly. They were closer to amenities, which for this “city girl” made the weekend more fun and less stressful.

Because there were fun things nearby, we decided to leave the campground to visit some local attractions. 

  1. Walmart (for some necessities) – As a camping and traveling family, we always forget SOMETHING. I know this is a common trend. Everyone can not think of everything even though our family makes numerous lists before a trip or when we are packing. **We started making a list in the camper of things we need to buy when camping or things we need to pack at home for our next camping adventure. This has helped tremendously.**

2. Gator Chateau in Jennings, Louisiana! We loved Gator Chateau. This was our second trip here with him, but this time he could experience more since a little bit older. It was a neat hands on experience for all and FREE. We like FREE in our family especially now since times are financially hard for all. After this trip, I even brought back that we should go here for a first grade field trip with my school kiddos.

3. Darrel’s Poboys – We have been here numerous times; I always get the shrimp poboy, and my husband gets the Surf and Turf. We love the atmosphere, the food, and the family friendly dining. My dad was in awe of how the shrimp poboy is not your traditional fried shrimp on a french bread. It was more grilled/sautéed shrimp with a jalapeno mayo on a homemade bread. DELICIOUS! We always stop here if we are in the Lake Charles and Jennings area. You definitely won’t regret stopping here if you are in the area or just want a day trip. 

We made memories and had a great time. This was the beginning of our camping adventures as the Chustz Campers … later turning into Chustz 3.

Crooked Creek, Saying Goodbye to RV Parks and Hello to Camp Season 

Before hunting season, we had one more adventure in Crooked Creek

After those summer adventures, we decided to park the camper at the hunting camp in Oakdale. We made memories at the hunting camp and knew this was the beginning of something new. 

To sum it up … I learned a few things about camping. I am a city girl who hates sweating and nature who married a traditional Louisiana country man. 

  1. Camping is glamping in a camper or recreational vehicle (RV) 
  2. Expect the unexpected 
  3. Enjoy the outdoors (even if it’s 100+ degrees in Louisiana… we have fans and shade for a reason) 
  4. Make memories despite the chaos 
  5. Your child(ren) will always remember this time together 


Natalie Chustz
Natalie is a mom to an energetic busy 5 year old, Brody, and a wife to Andrew. They live together in Opelousas, Louisiana. She was born and raised in Lafayette until 2021. Natalie graduated from UL in Early Childhood Education and ULM in Educational Technology Leadership/Instructional Coaching, and has been working in the education field since 2012. Recently, she became her own boss in two different ways. One is with Pampered Chef and the other one is with Chustz 3: Camp, Creativity, and Chef, LLC. Brody is constantly teaching her that motherhood is the greatest and most rewarding gift and that every day is a chance to make memories together. You can frequently find Natalie helping others, planning and reaching her goals, and living everyday to the fullest... Livin' my best life is one of her favorite mottos that hits home especially during the summer months when she is on "Summer vacay" due to teacher life. In her downtime, she likes to plan vacations/camping trips, read, and write when not tending to her son and new puppy.


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