This post is reprinted from my September 13th column on Mount Vernon Patch.

If the thought of cramming yourself, your significant other, and your children into a three-foot-tall fabric shelter and wiping yourself with a leaf doesn’t sound like “fun!” to you, you’re not alone.  As much as I love hiking and being in nature, when it comes to getting some shut-eye, I like to be off the ground, with walls and preferably some kind of plumbing nearby.

According to the Urban Dictionary, “famping” is defined as fake camping; renting a cabin or cottage in the wilderness or “up north”.  It’s not roughing it enough to be camping but also not nice enough to be considered “vacation”.  In other words, it’s my kind of camping—the kind with beds and bathrooms and some relative distance between you and the elements.

You don’t have to travel far to find some great family famping options:

Cacapon State Park is part of the West Virginia State Park system.  My family and I have been renting a cabin there every fall for the past ten years.  Built in the height of the Great Depression as part of the Civilian Conservation Corps program, the log cabins are set deep in the woods and feature huge stone fireplaces, small kitchens, and bathrooms.  The park has a small fishing and swimming lake, miles of hiking trails up the Cacapon Mountain, horse-back riding, and a great family nature program.  Just make sure you make your reservation far in advance.  The old mountain town of Berkeley Springs is fifteen minutes away and has great restaurants (our favorite is Tari’s Cafe), shopping, and spa services.

If tree houses are more your style, you’ll love the Maple Tree Camp Ground, near Harpers Ferry.  The tree cottages are built on stilts, eight to ten feet off the ground with small porches.  They all have beds with mattresses, a table, chairs, and a wood stove.  We stayed in one of the more primitive tree houses, enclosed wooden structures seven feet off the ground, which are available in spring, summer and fall.  These do not have mattresses or linens so you’ll have to bring sleeping bags.  They have shared bathrooms and a firepit for the all-important marshmallow roast.

Cunningham Fallsis located near Frederick, MD, and offers hiking, swimming, fishing, and boating.
The hike to the waterfall is perfect for kids.  The park has 9 four-person camper cabins and 4 six-person camper cabins. Each cabin site has a picnic table, fire ring, and lantern post. Campers must provide their own linens.  If cooking over your log fire isn’t your speed, check out the nearby Cozy Inn, site of many a presidential meal (perhaps because of its proximity to Camp David).

Happy famping!