Why take kids camping? So much more than just a cheap holiday, going on a camping trip with your children has mental and physical health benefits for the whole family, will form long-lasting mutual memories and can be loads of fun. Yet the prospect of sleeping with the kids in a tent fills some parents with trepidation. Here are some good reasons to stop being nervous, to crack out the camping kit and take the kids camping next weekend...
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It’s completely different to normal life
Heading off for a week in a holiday cottage is a nice break, but you’re still basically living in the same way as you do at home. Tent life, on the other hand, is totally different – and much more exciting as a result. Far away from the distractions of modern life, camping gives us all a chance to escape, and rediscover simple pleasures. From reading and playing eye-spy to watching the sunlight dancing on the canvas, it’s amazing how little we really need to keep us entertained when we’re immersed in the natural world.
It tunes them in to nature
It’s impossible to ignore the incredible sounds of nature when you’re camping. Daytimes are filled with the busy chatter of songbirds, the elusive rattle of grasshoppers, and the wild cries of buzzards overhead. As the light fades and the nightshift begins, let the haunting calls of tawny owls, the leafy rustles of nocturnal creatures, and the soft sigh of the wind in the trees to lull you to sleep. Learning to identify these different sounds is an important skill for children; see if you can help them name a few to get them listening even more closely.
Another benefit of tent life is the reduction in artificial light, meaning we’re more able to follow the natural rhythms of night and day. Our children invariably sleep best under canvas.
They can build their own house
Kids love helping with setting up camp. Ours get involved with laying out the groundsheet, clipping the tent poles together and handing out tent pegs. They each have their own sleeping bag and self-inflating mat so they can arrange their bedroom just as they want it – within reason! Children can also get involved with other aspects of tent living such as helping to prepare meals. Even if they’re not old enough to cook it themselves, food is infinitely more exciting when it’s been cooked on a camping stove.
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There’s something for everyone
If your child enjoys being sociable, campsites are excellent places to meet other kids for lots of active outdoor fun. Some sites have playgrounds, but it’s often those with big, grassy areas where children can congregate and make up their own games that work best. Many campsites have designated areas for families and quieter campers, meaning those children (and grown-ups) that prefer a more peaceful experience can enjoy camping too.
Every day is an adventure
Camping in wilder places puts you right in the middle of the action when it comes to outdoor adventures – and the choices are endless. Try finding some nearby trees to climb; head into the woods to track wild animals; spend the day rockpooling and sandcastling on the beach; go wild swimming, kayaking or gorge scrambling; or just head out for a really long walk and come back ready to cook up a campfire supper.
However you choose to make it your own, camping together makes amazing shared memories that you can look back on for years to come.
Award-winning outdoor adventure writers and photographers, Jen and Sim are the authors of eight books, including The Adventurer’s Guide to Britain, Amazing Family Adventures and the forthcoming 100 Great Walks with Kids, which will be published in March 2021. In 2015 they spent a year living under canvas, exploring Britain’s wild places with their two young children. Find out more at Adventure Places.
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