Tales From the Trail: Jessica Kendall Thomas

For Jessica Kendall Thomas of Carmel, Indiana, the time she spends exploring the outdoors with her family is “a blessing.” 

Jessica and her husband John are avid outdoors people and introduced their children to the wonders of nature and exploration at a very young age. From hiking across the Tetons and taking in aspens while scrambling boulders to camping across the country, the Thomas family has some amazing tales from the trail that they are quite eager to share.

Tales from the Trail: It’s a Family Affair

“My love of camping and hiking came from my parents,” Jessica said. “John and I both love the outdoors, so I think it’s something we would have done with our family anyway.”

The Thomas family isn’t alone. Statistics reported by BuisnessWire suggest that millennial families, like the Thomases, are flocking out in tents and campers. There are 78.8 million camping households in the United States, and the number of those camping more than 3 times a year grew 72% between 2016 and 2019. In fact, 54% of camping households are millennial families.

The emotional benefits of camping with a family abound. Outdoor recreation is the perfect way to relieve stress, unwind, and have fun for the Thomas family.

“It’s just so awesome to wake up and make your coffee and read, sit by the fire, talk and look out at the Tetons, or whatever you’re looking at,” Jessica said. “The kids love riding their bikes and scooters around the loops and making new friends in the campgrounds and on the trails.”

Adventure is Out There

Another major draw to the outdoors for the Thomas family is the sense of adventure they get from the triumph over the trail and getting a kick out of a night of camping.

“A lot of work goes into setting up and taking down all the gear, but it’s so worth it,” Jessica said. “We don’t mind bugs and getting dirty, and even not showering all the time.”

Even basic bio breaks are an adventure for the Thomas family. 

“Going to the bathroom, in the dark with your flashlight, wondering if there are bears around is an adventure, too,” Jessica said. 

Hiking is another part of the adventure the Thomas family loves. It makes sense, too, as the benefits of spending time in your boots on the trail are quite plentiful. Hiking can improve blood pressure, build strength, improve balance, and definitely boost your mood.

“We love to hike,” Jessica said. “The kids can’t always make it a long way, but there’s always something to see, a new place to go pee, maybe a ranger tells you there’s a bear back on that path.”

Time spent outdoors often comes with a significant change of scenery for the Thomas family. Though the Thomases call the bustling Indianapolis metro area home, they love traveling out west for their camping and hiking adventures. Wyoming is a favorite destination, as the opportunities for hiking, camping, wildlife viewing, and rock climbing are prevalent in the Grand Tetons.

“We love to have some drinks around the fire and look at the stars, which is amazing out west,” Jessica said.

It’s easy to see why the Thomas family loves the Grand Tetons. In fact, Teton Crest Trail made our list of Best Backpacking Hikes.

Lessons Learned on the Trail and in the Tent

Family time and adventure are just part of what draws the Thomas family to time on the trail or in the tent. In fact, for Jessica, it can be about learning and personal growth too.

Jessica says the most significant thing she has learned about herself camping is that it is possible to exist in a simple lifestyle. Jessica and John both balance work, family life, friends, and hobbies. Their children are involved in their education and many activities. This means they can often get caught up in the hustle and bustle of daily life. Camping and spending time outdoors give The Thomas family time to slow down and reflect.

“You don’t always have cell service and that’s okay. It’s fun to just sit and talk or read and take in the scenery or rest in the hammock,” Jessica said. “The kids don’t always need their electronics, it’s fun to ride bikes and take hikes and draw or paint.”

Jessica points out other benefits to time spent camping and outdoors, from a culinary perspective. 

“The food tastes better when camping, even without all the spices and ingredients you usually have at home,” she said. 

Write Your Own Tales with Gear from BivWack Outdoors

The love of hiking and camping is simple for the Thomas family.

“Really, it’s just being outside, in nature and all its beauty, and being together,” Jessica said. 

Are you ready to make memories and write your own tales from the trail? Let BivWack Outdoors guide you through the gear you need to plan your next adventure.