“Mom, I got a first timer for you.”
The words Beverly Woods resident Dana Mims, 52, and her husband David, 48, heard often from her children during their childhood, referring to the peers they encountered who had never been camping.
Hearing those words proclaimed meant a weekend family camping trip with the newbie was in the works.
Growing up in south Charlotte, Dana Mims experienced camping for the first time with her five siblings and parents as they embarked on yearly camping trips in the heat of August when Mims was just a young girl.
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Those camping adventures continued through Girl Scouts to South Mecklenburg High School to teaching within the community; camping on the weekends was a beloved part of Mims’s life into adulthood.
Camping was a hobby, teaching was her career. During her final years of teaching at a CMS middle school, Mims began forming bi-annual camping trips for her fellow teachers as a release from the stress of work and life. The first scheduled trip to the New River ) started with a rainy drive to their destination.
“I got up there early and found our camp site. When I got out of the car, the rain stopped immediately and the clouds parted. And it ended up being the most glorious weather weekend,” said Mims.
This was a sign that Mims was born to share and teach the joys of camping with others. Earlier this spring, Mims decided to turn her passion into a business called Dana’s Outdoor Edventures.
“My saying has always been: ‘I live to serve,’ ” said Mims.
Mims has collected all the equipment necessary to bring groups of up to 15 people camping for weekends or extended vacations.
The service Mims provides is for individuals or groups who have always wanted to go camping but do not want to buy all the equipment, do not know where to go or what activities to do once they arrive, and want to enjoy the experience minus the work involved.
Mims provides an escape from reality as she handles all the details of the trip, from cooking the meals to providing flash lights, to the set-up of the camp site.
Mims states on her website that, “There is no greater peace and satisfaction than what is gained through time spent in nature.”
This holds true especially for children.
“My goal has always been to make a difference in this world. And through camping, I feel like I can reach kids on a whole different level than I could in a classroom.”
She’s still a teacher at heart. Mims is in the process of developing and perusing a year-round program for communities and schools that she has named “Live One Teach One” for intercity kids.
This program starts with taking five kids and five adult mentors for a weekend camping trip. This first weekend is spent learning by doing as the kids help with everything. The next weekend there’s only one adult, the original five kids, and five new kids…the original group of kids have “lived” and learned through the original camping expedition and now can “teach” the new group.
“Being outside and self-sufficient in nature puts these kids on an equal playing field”, said Mims. “It humbles them a lot and gives them the confidence they may not have had before.”
Now that her children are grown, Mims relaxes alone on camping trips, with only her dogs in tow, almost every weekend she’s not with groups.
“I’ve never had any problem what so ever when camping by myself. People at camp are good people. I’ve never run into a circumstance where I did not feel comfortable,” said Mims.
A tricks of the trade tip from Mims, “When camping alone, always bring two chairs. It looks like you’re there with someone.” Or, just hire Mims and let the adventures begin.