I have so many fantastic childhood memories of family vacations, especially our annual week on the coast each summer. After spending hours at the beach and by the pool each day, we’d visit theme parks and waterparks, go shopping or to the movies, or play mini-golf with my cousins, finishing almost every night with a scoop of ice cream on the pier and card games before bed. Looking back, it’s interesting how I don’t seem to recall much of anything but the fun and sweetness of those summers.
Fast forward to my first family vacation as a parent of a toddler. In less than a day of tag-teaming with my husband, chasing my son around all morning on the beach, then trekking back out after just two hours for lunch and nap time (I had this ridiculous notion he might tire himself out enough to just nap on the beach), I discovered that I needed to completely redefine the word “vacation” in my mind. And I quickly developed a ton of respect for my parents—and all the parents out there—who gifted their kids with amazing vacation memories year after year with what I now recognize was a tremendous sacrifice of time, energy and effort.
With this new frame of mind regarding what can be classified as a true vacation for me, I’ve started looking at travel experiences through a completely different lens. I work full time as a social media manager, am the parent of a 3-year old, travel frequently and am constantly busy with friends, family and community. So, a vacation to me really just involves peace and quiet. And y’all, one of the most peaceful experiences I’ve ever had was catfishing on Lake Moultrie.
As I drove out to Black’s Camp in Cross, South Carolina, for my first-ever fishing experience, I thought this place was seemingly out in the middle of nowhere. But as we got on the water and headed out to the captain’s fishing spot, I realized that’s kind of the whole point. Almost as soon as we left the dock, I relaxed. It was as if nothing else mattered while I was on the boat. I don’t think I even took my phone out to take pictures on the journey because the combination of the wind on my face and the expansive views of the lake seemed to cast a calming spell on me.
Lake Moultrie, along with Lake Marion, is one of South Carolina’s “Great Lakes” and it is great in every sense of the word. For starters, it’s truly massive with sparkling water as far as the eye can see, only marked occasionally with trees protruding from the surface, offering a startling yet spectacular sight. It’s hard to imagine navigating such an immense body of water, but thankfully my guides for the day, Captain Bobby Winters and John Mercer, have been fishing these waters for years and it wasn’t long before we were anchoring our boat and ready to fish. Pro Tip: Having an experienced guide makes all the difference. They’ve got the gear, the know-how and the enthusiasm to make sure your trip is a successful one (plus both of these guys were incredibly nice and easy to talk to).
I experienced a lot of firsts on this trip. I successfully baited a hook, which was fairly gross, but an authentic part of the experience. I unsuccessfully cast a line, which my guide was very generous (and brave) to let me try. And, after anxiously watching each of the lines for the slightest bit of action, I reeled in my very first fish—a 14-pound catfish who was not happy at all to be out of the water. After inspecting him and holding him up for a picture—and consequently dropping him when he started thrashing all over the place—I released my fish friend back into the depths of Lake Moultrie and allowed myself a happy dance to celebrate my success.
As someone who has never really considered fishing, I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed it. The combination of the serene beauty and peace of the lake with the excitement and adrenaline of reeling in my catch made for the perfect vacation activity. And I never would have discovered an affinity for fishing if I hadn’t taken the step to try something new!
If you were to ask my parents about their memories of taking all of us on vacation from year to year, you’d find they treasured the times we spent together as a family just as much, if not more, than I do. I have to admit, even though I thoroughly enjoyed my time fishing, the whole trip back to Black’s Camp I kept envisioning bringing my son along the next time and the memories we could make as a family. Whatever your idea of a vacation looks like, be it a quiet retreat away, an action-packed family itinerary or something in-between, you can find it here in South Carolina.
Filming for this show was done in part prior to Covid-19 and SCPRT recommends following local guidelines for social distancing and your personal protection. Some of the activities depicted in the “Go For It’ series might be affected, or even unavailable, due to Covid-19. Please check with the local provider or attraction for the latest schedules and hours of operation.