As the rain gently falls on my office window, I can hear the sounds of ‘bath-time’ coming from upstairs, and I appreciate this half hour I have to myself.
We’re going camping in just under two weeks time – so I’m going to make a start on our packing list, and am hoping that the sunshine we’ve been enjoying makes a return for when it’s time to go!
A few people have said to me ‘you’re brave going camping with a baby!’ Now, call me crazy, but I’m here to tell you that camping with young children is actually the most delightful thing to do! You just need to be organised and well prepared. (And there’ll be no talk of minimalism here – you’re going to want to take everything AND the kitchen sink!) There truly is nothing better than sleeping outdoors, waking up with the sun, and eating pancakes cooked on the camp BBQ. Days of walking through the forest to the beach, lounging around your campsite reading books or playing games, smelling the sausages sizzling come tea-time, and gazing at the stars once the little ones crash after all that fresh air.
The first time we went camping as a family was when Beau was a one year old – we went to the Prana New Year Festival and he absolutely loved every minute of it, as did we. He’s three now and we’ve been camping a further three times since, including to a site right next to a stream last summer. My expectation is that camping with a 5 month old baby (who doesn’t crawl yet) and a three year old (who is now more trust-worthy in terms of not running off, or randomly wanting to get into everything – aka other peoples’ tents!) will actually be even more enjoyable. I shall report back accordingly!
These are my top five reasons why camping with young children is a must do:
- It’s cheap! Our 3 night stay for the 4 of us, with a powered site, is costing $160. The campground has flushing toilets, hot showers, and a kitchen if you don’t want to take your own camping stove/bbq. You camp in a clearing by the forest, and walk through the trees to the most beautiful beach. It feels a lot further than a 2.5 hour drive from home and there is nothing else you could possibly need in order to have a lovely family holiday – trees, beach, campsite, you’re set. The only additional costs are your petrol getting there and the food you’ll eat. But you’d be eating if you were at home anyway, so… it’s a 4 day summer holiday for $160.
- It’s an adventure! Sleeping outdoors; setting up a cosy home in a tent; snuggling in sleeping bags; reading books until the light runs out; waking with the sun and getting to the beach as it’s still rising; collecting shells and pine cones and leaves and sticks and making artworks; hanging towels and togs on any piece of rope or tree branch that’s available – ready for them to dry and be used again; hearing the sound of the birds around you and becoming familiar with their rhythm; waking with the smell of the beach still on your sun kissed skin…
- It’s good for the soul. Being somewhere with limited cellphone coverage, and no need to do anything other than relax, is undoubtedly good for the soul. There’re no screens, no to do list, no schedule, no where to be by a certain time, no sense of time at all – beyond waking with the sun and going to bed when it sets… You’re more in tune with your own natural rhythms – more aware of when you need to sleep, or eat, or move, or rest. And the little ones are just the same. They are more relaxed, because you are more relaxed. Everyone is less grizzly and more settled – because we’re all together, and it feels deliciously calm and soothing. The rustles of the trees, the chirping of the birds, the distant lull of the oceans waves, a monarch butterfly bobbing by, the changing shapes of the clouds, the gradual shift of the trees shadow… it’s a slow and deliberate time together.
- It’s bonding. It’s really lovely all working together on the simplest of tasks – whether it’s pegging down the tent, or blowing up the air beds, or washing the dishes in a bucket, there’s a task for everyone and even the smallest of hands can help. Then there’s the family shower trip at the end of the day’s adventures, all meandering through the campgrounds with wash-bags and bath towels and returning to the tent clean and fresh, ready for PJs and sleeping bags and stories. There’s the closeness of sleep, with the comfort of each others proximity, and the shared breakfasts in the morning – complete with jumpers over PJs and no where else to be but together. It’s just a lovely time of togetherness.
- Because why wouldn’t you?! If you wait for the right time, the right age, the right weather… you’ll never go. Obviously if you don’t enjoy camping in the first place, then maybe don’t go with young children. But if you love camping and would love to take your children along, then my number one reason to go is exactly that.
Just be organised and go prepared – for rain or shine – and I promise you won’t regret it. (I’ll share our lengthy packing list, once it’s compiled!)
Do you go camping with your little ones? What are some of your top tips?