Mr G and me are big fans of camping. Lots of childhood memories, and fun times with friends when we were older at festivals and on holidays. We are hoping to pass on this love of sleeping under the stars to our kids and so at the end of last summer we bought a proper family tent (sleeps at least 4, you can stand up in it, that kind of thing). We have only been on a couple of trips since then but have a holiday planned later in the summer, which will involve several nights of camping in different locations.
So I am going armed with a list of activities to keep the little ones entertained while we pitch the tent (they are a big young to help with this, although they occasional try it usually ends in tears!) and things to do at dusk and dawn. Here are a few ideas if you too are camping with kids:
Spotter sheets My kids love doing these. I remember loving those Eye Spy books when I was little too (do they still exist?!). Anyway we have a handful in the car that we have collect from visits to National Trust places and downloaded from websites like the Sussex Wildlife Trust, that we can pull out should we need to entertain the kids somewhere outside. If you can’t find any online that you like or want to customise one to your location then they are pretty easy to make. Just cut and paste a few images and hit print.
Quadrangle Remember these from school? I loved a bit of random sampling with a quadrangle. Easy to do with the help of 4 roughly equal-sized sticks. Get kids to make a square with them on the ground and then investigate everything they find inside the square. They can count the different types of flowers, bug, grass etc. Or draw them if you have pencils and a notebook with you (I always have these in my bag as M is a little artist). Plus this is something that real scientists actually do, which is always a winner in my book.
Sit spot, look and listen We got this idea from a fab campsite we visited last year (The Secret Campsite in Sussex, would highly recommend it). This one is perhaps a little tricker for younger children but mine can be persuaded to sit still for 5 minutes if given food. The idea is you sit somewhere in the wild (a wood is a good place if you have one handy) and just wait to see what happens. If you are able to keep still then all sorts of wildlife can come up close and personal with you (potentially tempted by the snack that you have bribed the small child with as well). Also have a listen to all the different sounds you can hear, and try to identify what they are. This activity is a good one to do at dawn or dusk (and lets be honest if you are camping the chances are pretty high you will be awake at these times!).
Treasure hunt/collection pots Old egg boxes are great for this if you can pop a few in your camping kit. Give the kids a box each and a list of things to find (make sure they are items that are ok to be collected, not rare flowers or anything!). Or get them to hunt for only yellow objects or collect something of each colour of the rainbow. Or just freestyle and then have a good explore of all the items afterwards (how many spiky objects, dead things, different coloured leaves etc). You could even make a nature frame with the items you collect (if you have enough) and then take a photo of yourselves among your treasures.
(Happy campers last year!)
As mentioned above the The Secret Campsite in Sussex is a fab little place for camping, we had such a lovely time there. We also camped recently at Sheffield Park, which was part of the National Trust Big Camp. They have these at various NT locations around the country. The kids loved the idea of camping somewhere we have visited during the day plus it was very easy (good if you don’t like to go too ‘wild’ with your camping), so I would definitely recommend this one as well. And hoping to test out this place (Whitesands Camping) next month, which looks fab too. I’ll update with any other gems we stay at as well.