Carry On Camping....With Kids
You may assume that the patter of little tiny feet means the end of camping trips, but one Oxfordshire couple say they have the advice to ensure everyone enjoys the experience.
Rebecca and Simon McCalla, founders of littleadventureshop.co.uk, have had many great camping trips with one year old Ivy and soon will be venturing out with new born sister Lucy as well.
Rebecca said: "Camping with kids for the first time is a leap into the unknown, but it is great fun and an inexpensive way to have a holiday or weekend break. Once you've a worked out what to pack and where to go it doesn't have to be a trauma either. "
They've put together their top tips to help you plan your camping trip with kids:
- Where to go? Pick a campsite where there is room for your children to roam safely and that allows you to relax. Avoid campsites too close to rivers, roads or with cliff top views! If you are taking you children camping for the first time, pick a campsite you are already familiar with.
- Setting your expectations: Remember children will probably find that the most exciting part of the trip is the novelty of sleeping in a tent, cooking outside and exploring the campsite. Make the most of it, you won't need to cram their days full with other activities to keep them amused.
- Timing: Arrive at your campsite early so you have plenty of time to set up. Pitching a tent in the dark with kids can be hard work! Give the kids some jobs to both help you and keep them amused; passing the tent pegs, assembling the poles and unpacking their sleeping bags.
- Where to pitch: The all important distance to the toilet block is key; try and get a pitch not to close - you don't want to be woken in the night by others, but not too far away so you avoid a full on trek to the loo. Also if possible pitch next to or near a marker of some sort to help your kids locate your tent from a distance e.g. a tree, telephone pole or fly a flag from the top of your tent (scull and cross bones might help avoid any neighbours pitching too close!).
- What clothing do they need: Waterproofs jacket and trousers/all-in-ones + wellies/ walking boots really are a good idea for camping in the UK. If it starts to rain you don't want to be cooped up in the tent for hours with hyperactive children. Bring comfortable preferably quick drying clothing, fleece jumpers and trousers are brilliant. Also a head torch is a really good idea, helps them go to the loo in the dark, is harder for them to drop than a torch and can double up as a Harry Potter/Star Wars prop!
- How do I keep them warm at night: This is important you are not going to be a "happy camper" if you have been woken at 2am by "Mummy I'm cold". Make sure their sleeping bag is suitable for camping, not just sleepovers at their friend's house. Look for good quality "mummy shaped" synthetic bags and give them an extra layer of fleece clothing if it is cold. A good sleeping mat is what really helps keep warmth in when camping, air beds are often used but actually they offer very little insulation compared to foam roll mats or more technical self inflating foam sleeping mats. Finally if you are camping with small children it is a good idea to put them in between two adults to avoid them rolling off the sleeping mat on to the side of the tent and getting cold.
- Cleaning: Take kids camping and one thing is guaranteed..they will get dirty. Firstly this is no big deal especially if you are only away for a couple of nights. If you are away for longer choose a site with shower facilities. Wherever you are babies and toddlers can be bathed in a plastic box with water heated from your stove.
- Organising the tent: Organise the tent as much as possible and try to only bring what you need. Stuff bags are great storage solutions, they can be scrunched up when not in use and can be filled with clothing, sleeping bags and just about anything you can think of.
- Cooking: keep it simple, easy to prepare food for the hungry family and plenty of snacks to keep energy levels up.
About The Authors: Rebecca and Simon McCalla are the founders of Little Adventure Shop. Relax, enjoy it, don't forget a bottle of wine.....or the loo roll!
For more advice on how to enjoy the great outdoors with kids and a wide selection of specialist clothing and equipment go to www.littleadventureshop.co.uk.