Camper Flippin Momma – An Interview with Karla Bradley

Camping is such a fun thing to do as a family. The kids look forward to the next camping trip right after we get home from the last one!

Karla Bradley
Gypsy Rambler camper

Kelly: Karla, I met you through sorority life back in college, but since then a lot has changed in both our lives. I know through social media updates that you are a mom of 8 kids, you and your husband are building your dream farmhouse in Arkansas, you flip campers, and now you are writing about all your big adventures on a new blog, www.thebradleybunch.blog . What can readers expect?

Karla: Yes, just a little has changed since our years in Alpha Delta Pi! Haha! I did just start a blog and am tying it in to an Instagram page where followers can come along on our daily adventures, because with 8 kiddos there is never a boring moment! 

I have been told for years that I need to write a book or have a show or a YouTube channel and this just fell into place and we are having a lot of fun with it. The blog will have posts about large family logistics, tips and tricks I have learned over the years that may help other mommas, home decor posts once our new house is built, some camper flipping, and any other random topic I fee like writing about! I want the blog to be a place where moms can go for encouragement and other people can go for lighthearted entertainment and not a place where there is negativity.

Karla uses camper flipping as a fun, creative outlet
One of the nine campers she has restored in the past 5 years.

Kelly: I’m very intrigued by camper flipping. The pictures you’ve posted of the vintage campers that you restored are adorable! How did you get started?

Karla: Thank you! Camper flipping is such a fun hobby. I got started about 5 years ago when we decided to take our family camping and I liked the idea of ‘glamping’ a little more than tent camping. We found a camper that was solid, but ugly and I went to work to make it more aesthetically pleasing before our first camping trip! I had so much fun working on that one that I wanted to try working on an Airstream. Then we moved to northern Arkansas and I became a stay at home mom and decided to pick up camper flipping again as my creative outlet. I have remodeled nine campers- some old and some new, some large and some small. Each one unique, but all have been so much fun to bring back to ‘life’ again. 

Before and after picture of ‘Sweet Caroline’ camper

Kelly: How would someone buy one from you? Do you work with future owners on design/how do you get design inspiration?

When I get done with a camper I sell them on camping groups on facebook and right now my last one that I will be working on before I focus all my time on the new house is pending pickup for this weekend. I have been asked by buyers if they could reserve a camper and have input into the remodel or if I would work on their existing camper to remodel it with them, but I would not have free reign of the creative part of decorating and that is the most fun for me. I complete the design scheme and then I sell the camper. It is so fun to think of the design and how it will all come together. It is a happy place for me to just sit and think about. 

‘Lily’ camper

I get design inspiration just from seeing the camper and then picturing so many ideas in my head! I have looked at Pinterest and Instagram for a few ideas and YouTube has been great to teach me how to do electrical work and various other things. I usually start with one design element- like a fabric that I love or a picture that I want to hang and then I develop the rest of the design around that. 

Playroom airstream
Kids and puppies!

Kelly: Does your family take them camping? If so, where are some of your favorite places to camp?

Karla: We don’t take the vintage campers camping just because we would not be able to fit 10 people in them! I have let a few friends use the campers when I get done working on them to test them out and let me know anything that I could make better before I sell it. 

My family goes camping in a new Grand Design Transcend 29TBS camper that sleeps 10. We usually go camping at Norfork or Bull Shoals which are both about 40 minutes away. Camping is such a fun thing to do as a family. The kids look forward to the next camping trip right after we get home from the last one! I also remodeled the new camper that we use, because even though it was new it was still boring. It is now more cozy and we love camping in it!

Kelly: What other outdoor activities does your family enjoy? Since you live on (160!?) acres, do you still find the need to explore other nature areas when you travel, or are you planning different types of vacation destinations? 

Karla: My husband is a tournament fisherman and will fish any chance he can when he is not seeing patients at the hospital. We enjoy anything outdoors. The kids love when we travel anywhere where there is sand and water. Since we do have a large property with a pond we don’t feel like leaving on a vacation that often. The kids spend almost all the daytime outside when it is nice only to come in to sleep and go back outside the next day! Right now the boys are building a teepee in the woods- there are endless things for them to do. This year we plan on making a vacation out of my husband’s fishing tournament schedule, so we will be in Alabama, Oklahoma, and Texas a few times. When we are on vacation we usually stay in a VRBO house rather than take the camper mainly because my husband will tow the boat and I will have our big van with the kids and to add a 34′ camper to that is a bit tricky!

Kelly: When I travel with my two kids, I feel like I’m packing up half my house with toys, clothes, etc. Do you have any expert packing tips for families who love to travel? 

Karla: I do! I have a blog post on that. I pack one suitcase for my husband and I and then another one for all the kids. Depending on where we are going I sometimes use big storage containers instead of suitcases because they are easier to take along and store. I roll outfits and set the rolled up clothes in the bin for each child for how many days we will be gone (plus a few extra outfits). The kids don’t bring any toys because the camper has dedicated camper toys in it. We bring a few scooters and bikes for the campground and I bring a stroller. We usually get a Walmart grocery pickup the same day we leave to go camping and just keep the camper stocked with plates and silverware and water. If we forget something we just improvise and figure it out because that is what camping is all about!

How to Reserve Camping Spots in Rocky Mountain National Park

I’m nervous and excited to go on our first camping trip in Rocky Mountain National Park this summer. I grew up camping with my family and have fond memories of setting up our tent, cooking meals over campfires, looking up at a big, black sky filled with more stars than I could imagine, and listening to frogs and insects chirping loudly while I tried to fall asleep.

I also remember lots of dirt, bug spray and the occasional upset stomach that would interrupt our fun. So, I think I’m heading into this adventure with a realistic approach to how camping with a 3-year-old and 1-year-old might go. Here’s my tentative game plan:

  1. Reserve our camping spot in Rocky Mountain National Park.
  2. Research by asking friends who have camped with little ones what to pack. I’m especially interested in what my 1-year-old should sleep in. And of course I made a ‘camping with toddlers’ pinterest board!
  3. Borrow and buy necessary camping gear.
  4. Plan trial runs by camping close to our home in Kansas City.
  5. Head out to Colorado! We will stay at a condo or cabin before and after our camping adventure to extend our trip. I’m only brave enough to camp one night this first time.

A couple of the Park’s camping sites are first-come first-serve, but most of the sites are by reservation. You can make reservations up to six months in advance and they fill up fast. I went to the National Park Service’s website to reserve the spot. You can also call (877) 444-6777.

We decided to reserve a spot in the Glacier Basin Campground because it is close to Sprague Lake, one of our favorite kid-friendly hiking spots. Our camping usage fee is $26.00/night. I chose a tent only, non-electric spot which is fairly close to a restroom with flush toilet. The cost does not include entrance fees to get into the park. You can learn more about RMNP entrance fees and annual passes here.