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Complete camping guide: Camp sites, the great outdoors or the garden

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Summer is the perfect time for outdoor fun, and camping with your children is a great way for the whole family to get back to nature. So much of our kids’ entertainment in this techno-world is centred on electronic gadgets. They have their place, but are no substitute for getting out and about in the fresh air, and exploring the great outdoors. Camping is an activity that most children love. For those who are new to the concept here are a few tips to get you started:

What You Will Need

Camping product companies would have us believe that all manner of bits and bobs are essential for a camping trip. Whilst there are many things that can make life easier when camping, the only truly essential piece of kit you will need is a tent and a torch. You can take blankets and bedding from home to sleep in, and for a simple overnight stop a picnic-style tea with and simple cold breakfast will negate the need for a stove.

If you are camping for more than one night, a small stove and portable cooking pans will be necessary, along with plastic dishes and cutlery. If you are camping in the UK a decent set of waterproofs and wellies or boots for everyone is a must too. For good weather then sun cream will be needed – extra time outdoors can quickly show on young skin. Spare clothing is always a good idea as it can turn chilly in the evenings, even on hot days, and children seem to have a knack for getting mucky and wet in the outdoors.

Family doing camping

How to Prepare

Young children can develop anxieties about the simplest of things, so plan your camping trip as a family. Ahead of your very first trip, explain in advance to the kids what camping is like, and if possible put the tent up in the garden so they can see their temporary home for real. You may want to spend a night or two with them in the garden, where the security of home is close by. This can also help you to identify any key items to take that you may not have considered, and help them get used to the sounds of the night, which may be alien and scary for them.

Camping is basically living outdoors. Helping your children to be comfortable outside will make the camping trip go more smoothly, so if possible spend time in the open air with your kids before you go. Picnics, woodland walks, splashing in a local stream, nature spotting and making a campfire are all fun things you can do close to home to improve your children’s familiarity with nature.

Planning your camping trip is not only good fun, but essential when you have young children. Be sure that you have a firm destination planned, and if necessary booked, before you leave home, and have snacks, drinks, and games available for the children during the journey and when you arrive.

girl in sleeping bag camping

What to do When you Get There

Once the tent is up and home is established, the natural world is your oyster. This can feel a bit overwhelming, but the outdoors is a fantastic source of inspiration and fun. Try:

• Playing outdoor games

• Collect wood for a campfire

• Go on a nature hunt, spot different insects and birds, or collect as many different types of leaf as you can

• Visit a local stream and build a dam from rocks and mud, or paddle with a fishing net and see what you catch

Take a picnic and go for a walk in the woods

• Climb trees

• Make a den

• Search for fossils, dig for worms and hunt for snails

Shop for meals on a daily basis. Decide as a family what you are going to eat, and how you are going to cook it. Getting everyone involved increases the likelihood of a good reception!

General Tips

Be sure to pack teddies, dummies and any other essential comforters for your children. Their own bedding and pillows can make them feel more at home too.

Take toys and games to keep your kids occupied, and have a few wet-weather excursions planned as a back-up for when the heavens open.

Children camping

Camping is a very different environment from home. (Unless you are in the garden of course!) As parents you will need to be extra vigilant and alert to possible dangers posed by water, certain plants, and insects. Take a first aid kit, know how to use it, and be aware of where your local Doctors and hospitals are.

Being outdoors also places responsibility on you to preserve the environment. Teach your children the Country Code, and apply it always. Outdoor skills, ethics and learning to respect nature are wonderful learning opportunities for your children.

 

 

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About Cally Worden

About Cally Worden

Seasoned freelance writer Cally Worden lives with her family and dog in a quiet corner of rural France. A love of the outdoors, and a fascination with her children's ability to view life with fresh eyes provide the inspiration for much of her work. Cally writes regularly for various websites and UK print publications on subjects as diverse as parenting, travel, lifestyle, and business, and anything that makes her smile.

Website: Cally Worden

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