Marissa Jaret Winokur’s Blog: Braving a Family Camping Trip

06/26/2012 at 10:00 PM ET
Taking a moment with Zev – Courtesy Marissa Jaret Winokur

We’re thrilled to welcome Marissa Jaret Winokur back to our celebrity blogging family!

As you may recall, the Tony-winning actress, 39, beat cervical cancer 11 years ago, underwent a hysterectomy and later welcomed a baby boy with the help of a surrogate.

Her son, Zev Isaac, is now 3½ and Winokur is back on the small screen, starring on TV Land’s Retired at 35, premiering Tuesday at 10 p.m.

She can be found on Facebook and on Twitter @MarissaJWinokur.

For her first blog back, Winokur writes about what happened when she and husband Judah Miller took Zev camping … er, glamping!

First of all, I am very excited to be blogging for again! Last time I did it, my son Zev was 2 years old and now he is about to turn 4 next month.

I remember all the wonderful comments and some of the not-so-wonderful ones, too. Both, however, are okay. I believe there are many different ways to raise a child, and I never claim to be the best mom. I’m just doing the best I can. Some days better than others. 😉

I wanted to come up with a fun blog to maybe spark some ideas of things to do over summer vacation. Imagine my friends’ surprise when I Tweeted in May saying that I was going camping! I read comments like, “Wait … camping? Seriously? Where is the girl I know and love … she wouldn’t camp.” And “Why aren’t you GLAMPING???”

Glamping? GLAMPING! (A combination of “glamorous” and “camping.”) I had never heard of that!

My husband grew up going to Skylake Yosemite Camp and they were having a family weekend. I knew we had a “lean-to” or something that wasn’t exactly a tent to stay in. How hard could it be?

Zev is almost 4 and he loves being outside. “LET’S HAVE AN ADVENTURE!,” I thought. That’s the phrase I usually regret. It’s like I know it’s gonna suck so I call it an “ADVENTURE” to make it sound less sucky.

We pull in at 5 p.m. with the sun still out so we can see where we are setting up camp, but it is uncommonly cold! It was 48 degrees out — and mind you, I live in L.A. and feel cold on a 65-degree day. So we all put on our jackets and start unloading the car to our cabin — our cabin with no real walls, just mesh to keep the bugs out, but not the freezing wind!

Now when you go camping, you should always bring a sleeping bag, right? Well, I bought Zev a Buzz Lightyear sleeping bag that’s more for pretend sleepovers at home. For me and Judah, I brought the blankets off our bed and an air mattress!

Holding this caterpillar was a big deal – Courtesy Marissa Jaret Winokur

At bedtime it was 38 degrees. I was so cold I huddled with my son and husband in the pitch dark and freezing cold. I woke up at 1 a.m. and totally freaked out. You would think I would save my child from the cold as well, but he and my husband had all the blankets and were fast asleep.

EVERY MAN FOR HIMSELF! I ran to the car and turned both the heat and the seat heaters on! I left the car running for about an hour and a half and then finally turned it off and slept in the front seat! I Tweeted at 2 a.m.: “Camping in yosemite, didn’t bring sleeping bags! I’m in car now with heat and seat heaters. I was the first voted off!”

At 5 a.m., my sweet little boy and my husband — whom I hated for taking me camping to die — knocked on the window. They got in the car and we drove until we found a cheap motel.

We did return to the campground for the wonderful activities, but at night we told Zev that “EVERYONE was staying in the same motel with us because it’s insane to sleep outside in the cold — only bears can do that — and everyone will return in time for breakfast!”

The great thing that happened during this trip was that I met the boy Zev’s teacher talks about. I don’t know about you, but my son’s teachers always say things about him and I’m like, “Sorry, are you sure you’re talking about Zev? Because that doesn’t sound like my boy.”

I never really believed or understood what the teachers meant, but during the weekend of “glamping,” I saw what they were talking about. He was game for everything. He wanted to have a true ADVENTURE.

The adventure Zev wanted included hiking and kayaking — and most of all, to be left alone with the big kids! It was so amazing. He really jumped into whatever the camp was doing. The boy who hates bugs and was scared of worms even held a caterpillar. He was so loving, he would just grab my face and kiss me because I think he was just so happy!

Zev had such a wonderful time that we arranged to go back in August. I am sure it will be 110 degrees in the shade and I’ll sleep in the car using the air-conditioning. Or maybe I’ll reserve a room at the same motel. After all, taking a shower after a long day of tie-dying and horseback riding really does make it more of a fun adventure!

Where else can I charge my phone and Tweet from and blow-dry my hair and sleep on a mattress and … OKAY YES, YOU HAD ME AT SHOWER!

Arts and crafts at camp – Courtesy Marissa Jaret Winokur

Follow me on Twitter @MarissaJWinokur for late-night tweets!!

— Marissa Jaret Winokur

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Showing 31 comments

allie on

Marissa, I agree with your take on camping. I totally would have slept in the car too! Looking forward to reading your blog 🙂

megan on

This was a good article. Much calmer, happier sounding and dialed down than her columns way back.

Marky on

So happy to see you blogging on here again, Marissa! You are delightful to read and love to see a blog by someone who sounds so real and “normal”. The pictures with Zev look so unposed, and so much like the pictures the rest of us have in our albums. It sure appears he is your treasure.

My first time camping was when I was pregnant with our oldest son, and we’ve been camping ever since! I remember taking my son to the mountains when he was the age of Zev; so much fun and wonder!!

Once, when we were fishing and talking at night, and the worms were sort of limp and very long, he thoughtfully looked at one and said, “That worm looks like a mouse’s jump-rope”. We thought it was the cleverest, sweetest, most lovely precious moment and though he is now 45, I look back at that moment and think of how it was an example of our family’s wonderful times when we went camping. Now he loves taking his daughters camping with us, though we have graduated from sleeping on the ground in a tent, to “camping” in a motorhome! Still camping, though!

Can’t wait to hear more about your family and what you are doing! Zev is adorable and all of you look so happy!!

Gen on

Great blog!! Love Skylake, love Zev’s hair and love you!

Susan Silber on

Hey Marissa – it’s Susan, Judah’s cousin (Luna’s mom)! Your blog post cracked me up! Camping is a blast if you have the right gear 🙂

We go camping lots and lots… super fun but yes it can be cold at night without a good sleeping bag! But kids LOVE the outdoors, that is for sure!

Anyway, just thought I would say hi… Looking forward to seeing you guys again sometime soon… and say hello to Judah for us please!

love, Susan and Luna

Holiday on

I love to go on vacation but I am NOT a camper. I am like you, we stay in motels. At least you tried out the whole camping thing! I dont think I have gone since I was 11 or so. We just took our kids to Monterey and Santa Cruz for a week and stayed in hotels, it would be too hard to “rough it” with kids.

Kylie on

It sounds like your family had fun regardless of the weather but I’m not sure how you can camp with weather like that.. I can barely camp with nice weather! You should go to Leo Carrillo in Malibu its on the beach and is of tons fun and has nicer weather!

Leslie on

Yey marissa is back!!! My all time favorite blog on here was “Scary Mommy Bullies” about when you locked the car and freaked out:

It was so vulnerable, hilarious and real. Most of these blogs are all PC, trying to teach everyone a lesson and preaching from the mount. You just tell it like it is. Love you for that! Keep being you and keep it coming!

Daisy on

Hahaha as someone from Australia, where all wildlife is evil, that caterpillar picture gave me a major WTF at first. If you held one like that here you’d more than likely end up with a horrendously itchy hand for the next 24-48 hours.

Blue Buddha on

What a fun time. Personally, I love camping and the outdoors; was raised on a small ranch. I can tell my 6-month old is already an outdoor lover as well.

As a new mom, I hadn’t read the post about locking your child in the car. I haven’t been the brunt of much mom bullying [yet] but after reading this post I will do my best to offer a hand, a smile or a “is there anything I can do to help?” if I see a mom out there in the middle of a breakdown.

Janae on

Great blog. Thanks for sharing!

As a side note: I love your son’s name! We also have a Xev (although obviously with a X instead of Z). I thought we’d be the only ones so it’s nice to know other people have heard of it as well. Your boy sure is a cutie.

Jenna on

Marissa this is such a funny story. You are such a great blogger and I’m so glad you are back!!!

kpmonkeymommy on

Camping is a blast if you gear up right… in your situation, I agree completely with what you did.

I really hope next time you just plan better and have a better time :D, whether that means a motel or just gearing up for it better.

I would, however, try not to discourage Zev wanting to camp outside. It can always be something that he and his dad do together while Mommy spends the night at the motel because camping outside just isn’t her thing.

Differences are what make us special and I think it’s okay to teach him that you don’t have to enjoy everything he does and vice versa.

Halley on

“whom I hated for taking me camping to die” LOL that totally sounds like something I would say! I’m with you sister, motels all the way! Only the bears sleep outside in the cold! SOO happy to see you back!

Hen on

OMG Hysterical. I love how unprepared you were, sounds like something I would do. Glad you all had fun. You are my fav real mommy blogger!

Kris on

Welcome back, fellow klutzoid dork mom!! So glad you’re blogging here again! =)

My idea of camping is staying at a Motel instead of a Hotel. There’s no way I’d stay somewhere without flushing toilets. No. Way. Mama needs her daily shower to wake up & face the day.

Charissa on

I had an “OMG so cold!” moment one April when my family went camping. I didn’t even think to try sleeping in the car!!

meghan on

Glad to have you back Marissa! Welcome to Retired @ 35!

jJester on

Camping sucks period! Not for me neither. I admire you for trying it out at least.

Rachel on


I’m so glad you are back, I just love your blogs. You are so funny!

Marina on

Marissa try El Capitan Canyon about 20 miles north of Santa Barbara, they have glamping there and it’s very nice. You still have the outdoor camping feeling but with actual beds and heated tents. Something you might enjoy instead of the motel, they also have cabins with walls and kitchens.

Mary on

Great blog! Brought back MANY memories!

We used to own a pop up and I HATED it. We then bought a trailer and went MOBILE HOMING! No complaints from me after that! I hope you and your family have a wonderful summer & will have more fun stories to tell us!


MacKenzie Vattimo on


First of all, I was visiting my NY family during your last run of Hairspray and I will ALWAYS regret not going to see it. (My family doesn’t share my love broadway fan and I was too chicken to go into the city alone!) However, I have the original score and I love to work out while listening to it.

Second of all, my husband is a camping kind of guy and I can relate to wanting a shower so badly by the end of the first night! I think you have it made because you get to go to Yosemite and since we live in SC I don’t know if we will ever make it there, especially on a camping trip! Sounds like a lot of fun. I don’t have any advice except for maybe getting a camper or an enclosed cabin.

Have fun in August!

Bunkywise on

That blog was perfect! Warm, funny and so full of motherly love. I’m looking forward to reading more!

Danielle on

Marissa, you have to check out the site first! Make sure there is a bathhouse with running water! oh dear, to camp without a shower, now that is truely roughing it! We tent camp all the time and I LOVE IT! if we need the phone we charge it in the car, otherwise its just us and the woods 🙂 I hope you all have many more adventures in the future, and find a campsite with a bathhouse and plugs for your hair dryer! 😀

Jennifer H on

My family camps at Bass Lake (where Skylake is located) every year (in tents and everything), and while some might consider it “roughing it,” my kids just love it! The lake is amazing, and there are so many fun things to do. Did you guys go to Miller’s Landing or The Forks for their awesome burgers? Can’t miss them!

We’ll be there is August this summer too – hope the weather is great and your family has a wonderful time! Trust me, as someone who grew up camping there every year, I know the value in the memories you’re creating for your son. They’re worth every bug and inconvenience, I promise! (And if you just can’t take any more dirt between your toes, there is a 5-diamond inn, spa, and restaurant in Oakhurst just a short drive away!)

Sara on

Hi Zev! This is Aaron….We should glamp together sometime. 🙂 My mom won’t camp, but the glamp thing may work. Hope that you are doing well.

Kathy on

It’s all about spending time with the family… sounds like you made some awesome memories for your son… God bless!

Nardia on

My sister underwent a hysterectomy, and she couldn’t have children. So happy for Marissa to have a boy Zev!

kitty62862 on

The glow of a mother’s love is such a beautiful thing.

Thanks for sharing the pictures.

Anon on

I was glad someone else mentioned the itchy caterpillar. As a teacher, I always warn my students of those white and black caterpillars. I have seen many kids itch for a long time after touching them!