When I heard mention of a mums and kids camping trip this school holiday I was quite surprised, but I was in there straight away. Not one to miss out, I wasn’t going to let the fact that I’d not been camping in 15 years.
I have to admit it was quite scary in the planning stages and build up. The numbers were made up of around 13 mums and around 23 children. Not all arriving together, but the ‘school’ mums were going for the first half of the week with ‘farming’ mums going the second half. Most had never been camping before, some had been as children. It was definitely going to be a new experience.
I’d asked lots of questions of my brother (who’s a fan of wild camping), and work colleagues. I’d researched tents and then set up the one I’d bought as a practice run.
Our practice didn’t go well, with N talking for 2 hours about every sound he could hear, and by 9.30pm we were back in the house because he’d told me it was too scary being outside in the tent. So I was just hoping that by the time we set up camp, he’d be flaked from all the outdoor play and living that sleeping wouldn’t be a problem.
We had an absolute blast camping. It was great being on holiday with other people. Most of the time, it’s just N and myself, so I miss the adult conversation. I got to know more of the school mums, and N got to spend time playing with many children who’re already at the school he’s going to, a couple of whom will be in his mixed year class.
Later in the week there were a couple more 4 year olds, so he could hang out with his friend H. Apart from a few minor disagreements (mostly from the older kids), everyone got on well, and it was great to see the different ages mixing and having freedom around the campsite.
My biggest worry (apart from N’s sleeping) was cooking. I’ve never cooked on an outdoor stove, but had put together a few meal plans so I knew what I’d do if it was last minute and we didn’t all coordinate. I think if we did it again, I’d push for a more organised food plan. The first night I just heated up some chilli that I’d frozen the night before which was really easy and quick to ease me in to cooking. Once that first time is done, it all seems a lot easier.
We did join the others in cooking as a group a few days in. A mammoth task given the numbers, trying to manoeuvre stoves, tables, food and timings. But it’s a great achievement when between us we’d managed to cater for 26 people over 2 sittings.
Thankfully the sleeping in a tent went fine. Apart from the first night when N was up until nearly lights out at 10pm, and wanted me in the tent with him, he would take himself off to the tent. He’d look at his books, play on the tablet, sticking his head out occasionally to moan at the other children playing too noisily, and then fall asleep. Mind you, he did spread himself all over the tent so I was pleased that we had a 4 man tent.
The best thing for N apart from being with lots of friends, had to be the independence. We stayed at Higher Moor Farm campsite which was just the one field. They’d managed to put us pretty much within the same area despite all the comings and goings of us and other tents. We were also quite high up, so we could see right across the field to the playground which meant we were fine leaving the kids to do their own thing. N’s used to watching out for vehicles up and down the farm drive, so I knew he’d be careful with any cars driving in.
Being on the campsite and with older children also gave him the confidence to go off to the toilet block on his own. I can swear by going camping to train a child to wipe their own bottom! N loved going off on his own and proving he could do it all on his own.
One day I looked to see where N and his friend H had gone, and spotted them down at the model sheep and shepherd’s hit talking to some older girls. The next day, I came out of the toilet block to find him telling an old lady that the ‘sheep aren’t real. They’re only models, but I don’t know what they’re doing there’.
With N’s independence last week, came another bonus. He’s now converted to showers. Before camping, he hated showers. He’s gradually let his dad spray the shower water on his back, but wasn’t keen on going under the shower even after years of trying. But while camping there was no choice, and he loved it always asking for longer under them. He was also excited about doing his teeth twice a day as well. I’ve no idea why because apart from the location nothing had changed. Since being home he’s still loving the showers which is so much easier than baths…although the trying to get him out of them is still hard.
Everything with camping takes longer. You do spend quite a bit of time cooking and washing up. In the mornings we found that most of the group took their time and weren’t ready to leave the campsite until 11 each day. We’d been up and showered from early, so were ready to leave around 9. If you want to just let time waft past, then camping’s great for you. If you like schedules and plan lots of visits, then it will work, but be prepared to take longer to do things than it might at home.
We did have one day of horrendous rain and winds, but the rest of the time the weather was beautiful and warm. It seems that we all had a great time, and really made the most of it. I’m not sure I’d go camping on my own with N, but with a friend or the group again it would be a repeated holiday.
N’s already been saying that he wants to again, saying ‘we can go camping whenever we want now we’ve got a tent’. And his dad’s also been hassled about going next time. I can’t see that happening, but hey, us mums managed perfectly well without the men.
Are you a fan of camping holidays? Do you go as a family or as a group?
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