Camping. You either love it or you hate it. I love it, but I have many friends who would choose a bed and breakfast over a fire and tent every time. Not to say I don’t love a comfy bed in a hotel, but there is something special about a simple camping experience.
My earliest family holiday memory is a blue and red tent set up in a pine forest. In those days, tents didn’t come with built-in ground sheets, so if it rained, we had to dash outside and dig a trench around the tent to stop the water running inside.
I’m not sure my mom was that keen on it, but I loved every minute. I still do. The first time we took our eldest daughter camping she was four months old and we’ve gone camping as a family at least once a year ever since (that’s 12 years now).
If you haven’t given camping a fair shot yet, here are five things to convince you that it’s worth borrowing your neighbor’s tent and getting out there.
Your kids will love it
My kids are screen junkies at home, but don’t even ask for any kind of device when we’re camping. They swim, go walking, read books and play boardgames. One of their favorite activities is a photo scavenger hunt: we give them a list of things that they have to go and find and photograph.
They fight less and sleep better after lots of fresh air, and not too much sun. I’ve got two daughters with red hair and pale skin, so the sun is our enemy. It doesn’t stop them though – long sleeve rash vests, sunscreen and hats and they’re out exploring for the day.
Packing is easy
Once you’ve got your camping kit sorted, packing is quick and easy. Everyone in our family is allowed one medium-sized kit bag – and if it doesn’t fit, you can’t take it. Fortunately, a camping kit list is short: T-shirts, shorts, swimming costume and a warm top for the evenings. Shoes are optional, except if you want to do some hiking.
There’s lots of equipment that makes it comfortable
For setting up camp, we have an instant tent that sleeps six. And it really is instant. Our set-up record is 17 seconds. Add chairs, self-inflating mattresses, hammocks, a good cooler box, a table (get one with zip cupboards underneath) and you’re pretty much sorted.
Once you have the basics, the next thing on your list should be some kind of shade awning. Camping is best in summer so being able to make your own shade is a bonus. Pop in a gas light for the camp area and a headlight for yourself and you’re ready to go. The trick is to have what you need to be comfortable but not go overboard. Solar panels to run your lights is overkill. Camp lamps that save you from falling over in the moonlight? That’ll do just fine.
There are campsites with flushing toilets
Set your boundaries up front with your fellow campers. A friend that we camp with has set her standard at flushing toilets and showers. So ‘rustic’ camps where your bathroom is a bucket and spade are off limits for us. And that’s okay, there are plenty of beautiful campsites that provide toilets and showers. Do your research and pick the right campsite and you’ll be fine.
Food on the fire
It’s simple and delicious. Meat on the fire, a quick salad, pot bread and maybe a can of beans and supper’s done. We usually cook a bit extra to have on sandwiches the next day for lunch.
Have some fun with desserts – two of our favorites are brownies cooked in orange peels on the fire, and cone smores (fill a sugar cone with marshmallows and chocolate, wrap it in foil and pop onto the coals to melt the inside).
Our camp trips are something the whole family looks forward to. Screen time isn’t a factor, and the nights are calm and filled with stars.
Then there’s the adventure, the easiness, and the family bonding time. How could you not love it?
Visit our Pinterest board, OGG: Happy Camping, for a collection of camping recipes, hacks and tips, as well as some ideas for kiddie activities when you’re out in the wild.