Essential tips for first time camping with kids
We’re heading towards summer – camping season’s here! If you’re considering your first time under canvas with kids, here are our tips to help it go merrily and avoid common pitfalls.
Before you go
It’s worth having a trial run in the back garden before your first camp of the season if you can. It’s a chance to check your kit’s ok (no broken poles!). And if you’re borrowing kit and sussing out camping for the first time, it’s a no-pressure opportunity to have a go at putting the tent up.
Plus the children can get used to their new holiday home, reading stories, making dens, playing board games by torchlight, listening to the noises outside. A trial run sleeping outside at home might make the first night away calmer too – it’s a chance to soothe any anxieties and get the first-time excitement out of everyone’s systems knowing you can pile into bed after if you have a sleepless night!
Where to go
Some people like their camping wild and unplugged, with just a water tap and a loo available. Others want the works: hairdryers in the shower block, a shop and pub on-site, or full-on glamping.
The good news is there’s something for everyone – just have a look at websites and reviews to get a sense of facilities and level of luxury. There are numerous websites offering lists and reviews of family-friendly campsites, though plenty that don’t appear on these are also welcoming and fun for children. Play areas are not essential when there are fields and woods to explore!
Popular campsites can get booked up over weekends and holiday season so book in advance if you can, especially if you’re going as a group. Though if you want to just head out when the weather’s fair, a bit of ringing around should be all it takes to find a campsite quickly, so long as you’re not too picky.
What to take
It would take too much space (look out for a future blog on the subject) to attempt a comprehensive kit list here (try this one), so we’ll focus on the fun stuff.
Take basic outdoor toys: balls, bats, skittles. Children young and old love exploring, so let them back their own bag of supplies and have an adventure getting to know the campsite. Wellies are a good idea – even if it’s dry the grass will be dewy is in the mornings.
Indoor activities are helpful too, especially if it’s wet. Take board games, drawing/colouring pads and soft toys for creative play. Glowsticks are great fun instead of torches.
When it comes to campsite cooking, things often take longer than you might think, so take plenty of snacks to keep energy up and complaints of “I’m starving!” at bay. Taking a popular one-pot meal you’ve prepared at home (chilli or spaghetti bolognaise for example) is a good way to speed things up and feed hungry mouths quickly on your first night away.
This is the UK, chances are it’s going to rain at some point! Decent rain gear is essential to keep everyone happy and minimise damp clothes. Rain can be a gift – as well as lots of free opportunities for playing in the mud, it also means many others will stay indoors so you’ll have the local attractions to yourself.
It’s also worth packing pegs for hanging wet clothes out to dry, and plastic bags or buckets for containing damp things so the dry clothes stay dry.
Our biggest suggestion when camping with children is to slow down as much as possible, and just have fun. More than any other holiday, camping is an opportunity to enjoy the process as well as the end result: chores can be fun.
The entertainment is laid on just by doing what you’re doing. Kids will love seeing the camp stove or fire in action; washing up the breakfast bowls and mugs can become a fun adventure. Living outdoors for a few days is excitement in itself.
What are your thoughts? These pointers aren’t comprehensive, more to get you in the mood! Please do comment with your own thoughts if we’ve missed anything important!