Camping, joys of camping, camping with kids

So back from Camp Bestival and with only a day or two until Wilderness I read a fab article on the BBC website confirming my (and Stornoway's) belief that we are Free Range Humans and need to camp more!!
While at Camp Bestival  I met some rather delightful and scrumptious 'mummy bloggers' (and ladies that tweet) and many of them had small children with them, even babes in arms! And when I tweeted about it I had a few parents show interest in camping but who were also nervous novices to the whole 'life under the stars' thing. So I thought I'd compile a few top tips. I have camped with DD since she was 8, we go to several festivals a year and camp in between. We have camped from March to November and have met and talked to many parents camping with young'uns. (We listen out for parenting/camping tips too when we camp...nylon and canvas are thin...)

 

  • Camping is not scary. Any one can do it. You don't need lots of stuff. Too much stuff can be a hindrance (and expensive.)
  • If you want to give it a try but don't want to buy a load of equipment try asking around your friends, lots of keen campers have more than one tent and are happy to loan you some kit.
  • Ebay and Freecycle are both great places to find camping bargains. And look in the sales at the end of the summer.
  • Camp for the first time in your garden! (or a friend's garden) That way you can experience the joys without the risk of forgetting anything. Kids will love it.
  • Children sleep better in the open air. Let then run about. Give them 'jobs' to do. Even washing up can be fun in a field.
  • Don't expect children to 'help' unless you are specific, even teens! Don't say "can you help!" say "please pump up the beds" "please tidy the tent pegs away" etc
  • Don't set bedtimes, just play it by ear. As the children get sleepy suggest a story in the tent, or colouring while laying in their sleeping bags
  • Take plenty of toys but don't feel you need to fill every minute, kids can amuse themselves with very little. Let them learn to make their own fun. Or suggest a scavenger hunt.
  • Toy ideas - bubbles, a Frisbee, colouring books, a quiz book, a ball, wooden/plastic swords and dress up things. Encourage the children to put on a play for you in the evening!
  • Don't worry about mess. If you eat out doors dropping food doesn't matter. Assume you will wash all clothes (and children!) when you return and just let them have fun. Take wellies, children have a habit or finding water anywhere.
  • Many campsites these days have toilet/shower blocks. It is not primitive. (some even have hairdryers)
  • You don't need electric hookup. No, really, you don't.
  • Festival toilets can look 'nasty' - talk to your children before you go about poo! you may see it - it doesn't bite.
  • Carry wetwipes and hand gel so you can eat without panic over germs.
  • Don't panic about germs.
  • Take a woolly hat and socks to wear in bed.
  • Take wine (unless you don't drink then take lashings of ginger beer)
  • Don't wear a watch.
  • Sleep when it's dark, get up when it's light.
  • Relax. Try not to plan too much.
  • Camping will create memories that kids will remember forever, keep your temper, smile, make the memories lovely ones.
  • But...do have a few rainy day activities up your sleeve. Visits to museums, quiz games in the tent, making plasticine people etc
Have an awesome time. Let me know if you are inspired to try camping, or add some tips if you already camp with small folk.
 

Thinking of festivals...

I am missing being under canvas.
Yes the joy of canvas - and when I say that I'm not euphemistically referring to all tents, I actually own two proper canvas tents. I have a nylon tent too and it's fine, waterproof, light, easy to erect (steady!) but it's not really the same. it doesn't have the authentic camping feel, it has the wrong smell. 

Ah the smell of a canvas tent, the lovely warm summer smell of the tent as it warms in the sun, or the autumn smell as it dries after rain. 

Rain which on a nylon tent is noisy but in a canvas tent has an oddly solid 'thump' to each drop, leaving one to assume that the Armageddon of storms is taking place when actually it's a light shower. At least the wind doesn't bend the firm steel poles of my canvas tent though. The canvas might snap and crack like a whip but the tent stays firm in the onslaught of a spring wind. I am longing to be back in the tent (and playing with my new storm kettle again!) with my long suffering DD (the darling husband stays home (more sense than TM & DD I bet you are muttering) but it's so long until to festival season, even though costumes are being bought already, supplies are being listed (cans of G&T and Pims mostly), and then soon the tents will be checked.
The first festival we went to in 2013 was the Magical Faery Festival in Findon, Sussex. a fine excuse to dance skyclad or in ethereal faery garb to mystical music in a field of green.

 After the Faery Festival DD and went to Glastonbury . More of that in later blog posts.  

We also went to  Camp Bestival, a true 'middle class mummy' joy of a festival, eco loos, baby changing and breastfeeding tents, Pims on the castle lawn, Jousting, flowers, art, literature, ballet and some good old fashioned music. Love this festival to pieces and took painted festival tent, as we did to the Faery festival -  For Glastobury, I was a bit concerned about tent safety (and my lovely canvas being weed on) so we too Nigel the nylon tent. Surprisingliy good loos at Glasto after all the horror stories!


  Many people are put off attending a festival due to the whole 'portable chemical toilet' thing, I can sort of understand that but the first festival I attended was Eastern Haze, DD was 8, it rained and rained, no one could get lorries on site to clean the loos, by day 3 the poop was a foot higher than the seat (who looks at a pile of poop in a festival toilet and thinks "hmm if I hover I can squeeze another one on there"?) and after that, all festival loos appear amazingly clean! and just in case of disaster we take the 'ShitBox' (never had to use it but it's a comfort to know it's there) and Sheewees of course!  



And then it was time for  Wilderness, smaller but just as lovely, boating on the lake, smoothies for breakfast, flushing toilets. A gorgeous festival.
And at each festival you find me, erecting the tent, sometimes with help from DD, making it look easy (considering I'm 'only a girl' and then having a celebratory beer.(top tip here - always erect your tent at least once before you go - it saves looking like a tit that has no clue what they are up to and checks no bits are missing!) Spring, Summer, Festivals, Camping. I simply cannot wait for next year. Are you coming? Should I bring extra Pims?

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