Camping with Kids for the First Time
Last weekend we went camping as a family for the first time. In reality it was only the second time I had slept in a proper tent and so I didn’t exactly have a great deal of pre-children knowledge to draw on.
The move to camp had been led by the fact that I had recently acquired a lot of camping equipment from Regatta Outdoors following our Camping Ready project last month, which had been kindly topped up by
Millets . So we had all the gear, and therefore no excuse to give it a try.
In the weeks following the agreement to camp, and after the actual camping equipment arrived, I started to wonder what I had done. We had all the gear certainly, but we had absolutely no idea what we were doing!
Fear started to set in when I started to pack on the Thursday. Would I turn up with far too much stuff, was the amount of kit we now had ridiculous or was it necessary. Did we need to take the mini BBQ as well as a camping stove and was the blow up sofa overkill? Should I take cereal and milk, did people do that? Was croissants and jam a good idea? You get the picture…
Friday morning came and I started to pack the car. What’s apps flew backwards and forwards between me and our friends: can you really get all this stuff in the car? Is it actually worth doing this for 48 hours? Are you sure it isn’t going to rain? Thank goodness for their patience/amusement!
We finally did get all the stuff in the car consisting of:
4 man tent, double airbed and double sleeping bag, double sleeping mat and three sleeping bags for the kids , five pillows, tent carpet, blow up sofa & chair two adult chairs and 3 chairs for kids , camping stove mini bbq two tables, BBQ food, coals and Zippo firelighting equipment, crockery, cool box of food, box of dry food, beer wine and cups, snacks a plenty for the kids, outdoor games, lanterns. I must have forgotten to put something in – oh yes the kids!
We set off and it started to rain – joy!!!
But we carried on. I don’t think Armageddon could have persuaded hubby to turn round after all the packing up and we got to site at around 5.30pm agitated and a little worried about camping in the rain. Beer was provided by our friends, space given for us to put our tent up, and things started to improve.
Our tent went up quickly and easily. We had practiced once in the garden which definitely helps a first time camper. The kids were excited but entertained by friends kids and keeping them out of the way definitely helped this process.
Then the BBQ went on. It appeared it had been a good idea to bring a mini BBQ because not only does everyone love a good BBQ but because camping stoves are notoriously slow to warm up and cook things and the kids were starving!
BBQ on, tent up and rain dispersing the mood lifted and smiles started to form. The kids loved the collection of chairs and blow up sofas we took with us and happily played about. They were also actually useful for relaxing on in the tent and for the kids to use to sit on and read books when they were eventually tired.
What I loved from the minute we arrived to the moment we left was the freedom the kids had. They loved the site instantly and kicked a football around, joined in with cricket games, fished in the river and their enthusiasm was infectious. I had abandoned any rules about bedtime before we embarked on the weekend and they happily ran about til 10pm making new friends and delighting in brushing their teeth in the toilet block with their significantly older (10 year old) friend.
Exhaustion didn’t set in immediately for the kids once they were in bed but an extra blanket thrown over the sleeping bags seemed to give them the illusion (if nothing else) of more cosiness and they went to sleep. I’d predicted a broken nights sleep for my three (who at home sleep in pitch black darkness) but apart from a 2am toilet wake up (thanks for the potty tip Emma and a useful Lantern in the tent for aim!) they slept soundly til 6.30am!
If I had managed to sleep that would definitely have been a win but for some ridiculous reason I tossed and turned and didn’t really get much more than two hours sleep! Not the ‘best’ first night however thanks possibly to my hot water bottle husband and our double sleeping bag, it definitely wasn’t because I was cold like some others I spoke to in the morning.
I woke up however to find our friends cooking sausages and bacon on our new camping stove and I was presented with a brew! It appears that our camping stove is actually pretty brilliant, warms up quickly and cooks as quickly as a stove does at home! It definitely go the thumbs up from our seasoned camper friends. I also had this view! Things were looking up.
We had decided that no plans for the day was the best plan of all. The weather was dry and warmish and we sat around chatting, eating, chatting, and eating some more. We played cricket and football again and the four girls enjoyed taking all the pots off to wash in the outdoor sinks. Note to self if we camp alone we need a spare bucket to put dirty pots in, some washing up liquid, cloths and tea towels!
We were camping in Appletreewick and so we took a leisurely walk along the river to Burnsall to play in the river and roll down the hills. A pint and some chips in the pub completed the afternoon before we walked back to camp. I regularly noticed during the afternoon that despite being tired the girls were happy and giddy to be out and about on their adventure and looking forward to another BBQ tea!
Food from our pitiful cool box had earlier in the day been moved into our friends rather better and cooler box to keep it fresh, helped by some frozen bottles of water that had kept their cool box fridge like. Frozen water is a top tip, as is a frozen box of wine!
We had steak, kebabs, burgers and finished with a cheese board and wine around the firepit. Apparently when you camp it is no excuse to eat bad food. Another thing that definitely pleased me!
Whilst Friday night had been fairly busy in the campsite til midnight ish, by a similar time on Saturday it seemed like ours was the only lantern still lit so we called it a night and retired to our ‘bedroom’. This time I had no problem sleeping and we all slept soundly til 7.30am, I don’t think that’s even happened at home in a long time. The fresh air obviously agreed with us all.
Packing up the tent was easier than I expected (helped ably by the kids) and by 10am we had breakfasted (more bacon and sausages) had a couple of coffees and filled up the car!
The kids decided it had been the best adventure they had ever had (sorry Disney) and we decided that for these first time campers it would not be the last trip. We went home exhausted (even the doll looked tired) and that evening we slept very very well indeed.