Why a Texas Farmer Shares Her Land

Sue is owner of a 35-acre property in southeast Texas. Her historic property, Cottages on Mill Creek, is home to four Hipcamp listings — tent-camping by the creek, an RV hookup, a quaint cottage, and an over-60-yr-old renovated pole barn that can sleep up to six people. For three years, she has been welcoming the Hipcamp community to enjoy the solace that her land, animals, and farm that she cares for all with the intention of building a reverence and connection to our earth. Inspired by Sue’s story? Start hosting campers who care about your land.

Hipcamp: Tell us about your land and what makes it special.

Sue: We moved to our property about 4 ½ years ago. We are on 35 acres, with a creek running through the center. The creek gives our property a multitude of personalities — pasture, forest, sandy beach, and deep creek banks. There is a piece of land to match any mood I have. In the last year I have added about 40 minutes worth of walking trails throughout the property.

Tin Barn Lodge photos by Kelly Sparks

Hipcamp: Tell us about how you got started on Hipcamp.

Sue: We operate the property as a bed and breakfast, and I had already thought about offering camping, as well as possibly hosting a camping festival, so I was very open to hosting. It is something I grew up doing, and I think it’s a great way to bring people together.

Hipcamp: How would you describe your experience so far?

Sue: I have thoroughly enjoyed the hosting experience. It doesn’t require any more effort than I care to put into it, and the things I have done (firepits, a few pieces of furniture) have been enjoyable. The guests we’ve had, to a person, have been thoughtful and respectful and generally beautiful and enjoyable people.

Hipcamp: What do you tell campers about your land?

Sue: I try to be sure they understand the limitations (that it’s primitive, and we have cattle that roam). I encourage them to explore the creek, fish the pond, and feel free to roam at will.

…there are so many threats to the health of natural areas, and if people haven’t experienced the beauty and fragility of them, they can’t be expected to value them enough to make the changes necessary to preserve our planet.

Mill Creek Cottages by Kelly Sparks

Hipcamp: Why is sharing your land important to you?

Sue: So many people are city dwellers, and have been all their lives. Remembering that the earth speaks is so important to who we are as humans. There are so many lessons in nature that we don’t notice and relate to unless we take the time to do so. It sounds corny, but things like imperfection. It wasn’t until I sat just looking at trees that I realized that they are imperfect. All of them. It helped me accept my imperfections. That is just one example, but without time to sit. Look. Think. We don’t have time to process life. Also, there are so many threats to the health of natural areas, and if people haven’t experienced the beauty and fragility of them, they can’t be expected to value them enough to make the changes necessary to preserve our planet.

Travel can be expensive. Camping makes it accessible.

Hipcamp: What is your favorite part about listing your land on Hipcamp?

Sue: I love how it brings people together. A father with his 2 boys for a weekend of tossing the football, spouses who live apart by necessity and meet in the middle, a mother and daughter — I’ve observed all of these here and feel honored to be able to provide an affordable way to access time together. Travel can be expensive. Camping makes it accessible.

Camp by the Creek by Shayna Frankenfield

Hipcamp: What is your most memorable experience with Hipcampers? Hipcamp generally?

Sue: I had a group of 14 students from, I believe Malaysia, on Spring Break who had never camped or fished before. They rented my barn, broke out the fishing poles and tents, and documented everything they did on video. They danced, cooked, and thoroughly enjoyed the property. It was very rewarding to know I had given them a safe place to enjoy each other and some new experiences.

Tin Barn Lodge by Kelly Sparks

Hipcamp: Have you made any lasting relationships through Hipcamp?

Sue: I have not, yet.  I have had one return camper.

Hipcamp: Do you interact with other Hipcamp hosts? If so, how do you feel about the Hipcamp host community?

Sue: I don’t interact with other hosts, but do try to encourage others in my community to participate as hosts.

Hipcamp: Do you engage in land stewardship efforts? If so, how?

Sue: Not on a large scale. I was approached to be part of a watershed stewardship program and offered also to host events on behalf of this organization, but was not contacted further. In a personal way, I try to be a good steward in my day-to-day practices by recycling, making my own laundry soap, avoiding meat, and buying local as much as possible.

Hipcamp: Do you have any advice for fellow Hipcamp Hosts?

Sue: Follow your instincts and trust the good in people. Don’t be afraid to try something new. And most practically, take the time to produce photo directions to the site. I did that and put it in a sheet protector. It has saved me the stress of having to wait for guests arrival. I leave the directions in the mailbox for them.

Hipcamp: Do you have any questions for Hipcamp Hosts?

Sue: Is there anyone out there doing festivals, and if so, how do you draw your participants?

Hipcamp: Anything else you’d like to add? Is there something about your land and / or your business you feel people should know?

Sue: I truly believe that if we are fortunate enough to own land that is conducive to receiving guests, it is our responsibility to share it.  Doing so will bless us and future generations.

Cottages on Mill Creek by Kelly Sparks

Inspired by Sue’s mission and experience hosting? Open your land to campers who care about your land:

Rachel Petri

Rachel Petri, writer, yogi, and travel junkie. Rachel is a firm believer in the importance of tree hugging, climbing above the tree line, and taking to nature to find deep connection. Follow her stories, inspirations, and adventures on Instagram. Follow me at Hipcamp.

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