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Apart from being ill at the 2 guide camps I went to as a child, I’ve always been keen on camping. But my camping experiences have never been with family. It’s either been with the guides, with Woodcraft folk (where we got flooded out in Barmouth), or with friends after uni (including a very cold February in Snowdonia – never again). Oh I suppose camping out every summer in the back garden with my brother counts as family camping?

After talking to lots of work colleagues who do a lot of camping, and taking N on our first successful camping trip last year, I’m in agreement that family camping is the way forward to have some great outdoor adventures.

How camping is the perfect family outdoor fun solution - Bubbablue and me

Now, I have to admit that when I say family camping, it’s semi family camping for us. Because the OH has not yet agreed to camp. Last year’s camping holiday was mum friends (school and farming ones) and all the children. This year’s holiday included most of the dads as well, but my OH was not for budging – not helped by harvest and farming requirements at this time of the year.

toggling in the inner tent
Toggling in the tent

We did set up the tent the weekend before to check how easy it was. For once N was helpful (kind of). He was happy wielding the mallet to bash in the tent pegs, although he does get easily distracted. He was very good at telling me where I should be poles and guy ropes though. Of course, the OH turned up just as N was escaping inside with pillow and cardboard box (he was going through his box as a bed and toy phase). For someone who isn’t a camper, I was optimistic about small steps…he actually got inside the tent, lay down and then proclaimed it quite peaceful. You never know, little steps, but next year he may end up being more interested and potentially coming along for a weekend or night.

trying to get dad out of the tent
Trying to pull dad out of the tent

So at the moment N and I go camping with friends. It started off as the mums and all the children. Last year we had a blast, and were very proud of our cooking, stoicism and coping (in particular in the one day of bad rain). That time, some of the dads turned up for the last couple of nights. This year, most of the dads were joining the rest of the families. They’d heard what a great time we’d had last year, tents had been invested in and upgraded, and they were looking more comfy.

Vango Padstow tent set up

But really, I think they just felt like they missed out by not enjoying the whole holiday with the rest of the family and friends. Looking on as one who didn’t have their husband, it was interesting to see the dynamics and comparing it to what we were getting up to, and compared to last year.

As so often happens, it seemed like the mums were doing all the work. The cooking, the organising of getting everything together for the day. The men were certainly having a more relaxing camping trip. But everyone agreed on one thing about camping.

how many kids can you fit in tent on a rainy day
How many kids can you fit in a tent?

Camping is about memories. Creating memories from simple times.

Memories that all the children will continue to remember long into adulthood.

[bctt tweet=”Camping is about memories. Memories that children will continue to remember long into adulthood.” username=”etusty”]

Kids sleeping bag caterpillar

The chance for children to explore the campsite. To make friends. To place football whenever they want (or any other game). To help out with everyday tasks that are more interesting when away from home (washing up). To have freedom.

playing 40 40 in tag at camping
freezer pack changeover

Simple achievements are reached. Learning to do things they couldn’t before. Going to the shop to swap ice packs and pay. Going to the toilet blocks on their own. Getting used to zip wires. And spending time as a family away from home in a more relaxed environment. The great outdoors. Because that’s what camping is all about. Being outside with the elements.

football in the fog at Warcombe farm campsite
on the zipwire

For parents, they’ll also create those memories. But also have the chance to learn more about their children when away from home. What makes them buzz, how they cope when they need to relax without electronic gadgets. And the realisation that they don’t need much to be entertained. Just being with family (and friends) is enough. This is all why I want the OH to come on holiday with us, so he’ll really understand how independent N can be in a safe environment.

We might not have gone camping as a full family, but going camping with friends feels like being with your family, especially when we go quite a way back.

Of course one benefit of family camping is getting everyone outdoors. From morning to night, we were outdoors. And it feels good. Plus of course, being outside all day means you sleep well.

Our week camping was over really quickly, so roll on next Summer’s trip. And hopefully we’ll persuade the OH to try it as well.

My recipe for family camping:
Take 1 tent
1 family
Enough clothes for each day
A sleeping bag each
A cooking stove and gas
A campsite
And a willingness for everyone to muck in
= family fun in the great outdoors.

Do you go camping as a family? What do you love about it?

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Disclosure: This post is part of Millets #WeDoSummer campaign.

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40 Comments

  1. I have always hated camping but after reading this post it has made me think about maybe giving it a go when our little one is a little bit older. #ablogginggoodtime

    • Yes, I’m not sure I’d want to take a really young child. Too much keeping an eye on them as well as all the stuff you need to take

  2. Wow! There’s definitely full of memories made here. We haven’t been camping as a family yet, but we’re looking forward to do it at the end of the month. xx #counrtykids

    • It does help that there’s so much camping equipment available nowadays. My top priority is nearby good toilets and showers, and electricity points. My friend always takes a kettle and toaster. So you can take whatever fits in your car to help with the luxuries!

  3. Your camping trip actually looks like so much fun and I can imagine lots of lovely memories were made 🙂 I have never been camping but have been coming round to the idea recently x #countrykids

  4. Karen : TwoTinyHands

    keep working on your husband, I am sure he will come round to the idea one day. We love camping and go at least once a month camping as a family during the summer and warmer months (so far) we started out with our 9 month old and he’s 13 months now and had 11 nights in a tent. Good going. It’s a great experience. #countrykids

    • He seems pretty determined at the moment. Friends who came with us with toddlers said it was better to camp with babies than toddlers, because at least they stayed in one place. Easier than having eyes in the back of their heads!

  5. Scattymum (Kate)

    Oh I really want to give camping a go with our four little ones but we’ve not plucked up the courage yet. Looks like you had a really lovely time so I’m feeling like we definitely need to throw caution to the wind and do it! #countrykids

    • Four’s a lot to take, but you can start small (well a couple of nights, not a small tent!) You can always borrow equipment from someone too – there’s always people who have tents.

  6. Fresh air, freedom to play safely and making lasting memories together as a family are the reasons why we enjoy going away in our caravan so much. We’re also doing a few canvas camping breaks this summer – the first time in five years! Lovely post! I hope you can get the OH away next time #countrykids

    • Thanks Claire. Even though camping does feel like hard work sometimes, the rewards are just brilliant. Looking forward to more in the future, although 1 biggy a year is probably our limit.

  7. We do love camping before but since my marriage is in turmoil all the family activities stopped. I miss camping. The solace that you find at night, the sound of my son’s laugh is louder in the woods and not muffled with city sounds. This made me miss it more. I so love that camping in the fog. It looks magical. #countrykids

    • It does look magical. You can just imagine a unicorn emerging from the side!

  8. It’s funny. I used to hate camping until I had kids. Seeing my daughter having so much fun makes it a fab experience. X

  9. Ive only ever camped at festivals and once in Croyde. It was a fun experience though. Something great about waking up and looking out your tent to fresh air in the morning.

  10. Family camping has always sounded great fun, I must say though, I’d much rather have the creature comforts of a hotel. It’s great that you give N the opportunity to run around with his friends and explore the campsite without too much of a worry, it’s opportunity’s like that which give the confidence they need as they get older. It’s great that there’s a group of you that go together so that N has friends he can explore and play with, lets hope that on your next camping adventure your OH will come too!

    Thanks for sharing with me on #CountryKids.

  11. I couldn’t agree more! We love camping and took our youngest when she was just a few months old. Like you say, not only is it great and liberating being outdoors all day and night, but the kids learn new skills and responsibilities.
    Potty Adventures
    #CountryKids

  12. We went camping for the first time last summer (with a 4 year old, 2 year old and 7 month old!) and had the time of our lives. It was my first time camping as well, and I ad been dreading it because camping has always been my idea of hell. I’ve certainly got the bug though now, and absolutely love it!! Some great tips there from you as well. #countrykids

  13. I do like camping but we haven’t braved it as a family yet, hubs is not ready to camp with kids and I am not either really haha. Love that you go with friends despite your oh not going, good luck with persuading him in the future! Xx

  14. tracey at Mummyshire

    Love this post and your last line – “a willingness for everyone to muck in!”
    It reminds me of our first family camping trip last year, especially your photos of N with all of the other children. It gives children a real sense of freedom being outdoors but not having to be by your side constantly, a sense of adventure and it looks like N really loved it!
    I agree with you, camping can be so special with children and going away is about making memories for the children and you were so lucky with the weather and your group of people, it really does look like you’ve made some special memories which N will treasure.
    xx
    #CountryKids

  15. Camping has never done it for me and thankfully the OH has no interest in it either. Your photos are really lovely and it looks like you all had a fab time. Far more brave than me. 🙂 Nice post xx

  16. I’ve never ever been camping!! It’s definitely something I’d love to do once my littlest gets a little older though!! 🙂 That tent looks amazing! #ablogginggoodtime

    • Mine’s nowhere near as big as others. You get real tent envy when you go away!

  17. I have a phobia of camping after a rather traumatic duke of Edinburgh trek as a kid. I think my twins would love it but I can’t bring myself to do it!!

    • Ah, it’s so different now. There’s electric, nice showers and toilets, and usually a shop for essentials.

  18. Aw looks like you had a lovely time and I agree camping with friends sounds like more fun than going with family lol.

  19. I would probably camp in my back garden but not at a proper camping place. I’m not sure I could deal with bugs (I know, I’m rubbish!)

    • As long as you have a sewn in groundsheet it’s mostly fine. A porch helps protect the doors as well

  20. I have only ever camped once at a festival and it was not a pleasent experience lol. I would love to try proper camping again tho. My bf is like your oh tho and cant be persuaded at all!

    • It’s a shame when really it’s good to have a strong man there. But the girls cope just as well without them

  21. Em, this is a lovely blog. Memories were most definitely made xx

    • Thanks Sarah. It really is a special time, and I think going with friends makes it more so…and probably less likely to be as stressed as just with family!

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