Every year, around about the same time in June, we go camping with nine other families.
That’s a whole lot of adults and children in one small corner of a campsite.
And a whole lot of Pimms *ahem*.
We have been doing it for around six years now and it’s something my kids have seared into their memories as the Best Date of the Year.
For it is a weekend where they run wild with other kids, get grubby, play, go river walking, skim stones, play games, run around inside each other’s tents and go to bed when the sun goes down or when they’re tired, whichever one comes first.
The adults sit around and drink. And catch up at bit.
It is the best camping weekend ever. We’ve had rain, we’ve had searing sunshine, but it never matters because it’s the one time of the year we all come together, spend time chatting and catching up and ‘oooing’ and ‘aaahhhing’ at how our kids have grown.
This year we threw canoeing into the mix. And as romantic as that sounds, let me tell you it’s bloody hard work!
Five hours of canoeing. Five hours of anything is arduous, but the next day I knew about it when my sides ached, my shoulders screamed and my back felt like I’d been in a wrestling match.
There was also the incident when Dan and his friend decided to beach their two-man canoe and go for a wee. Only they didn’t beach the boat properly and so they returned to find it making its way downstream with the current. So they had to swim the 200 metres to catch up with it. This was after capsizing their canoe three or four times already from clowning around.
Remind me never to get in a boat with my son.
However just look at the views. We were canoeing down the River Wye in Hereford and at times it felt like we could have been navigating the waters of New Zealand. Just stunning.
Unfortunately I was too nervous to get my camera out much. Even my phone remained in a watertight back for most of the journey as I held onto my paddle for dear life.
We’re pretty much experts at the weekend camp now so here are a few things we’ve learned:
- Chill out and go with the flow. If your milk curdles in the heat, take croissants to have for breakfast instead. If flies get in to the bedroom area of your tent, spray liberally with deodorant and smoke the buggers out.
- Say yes to everything. “Can I have junk food all weekend?” “Yes you can”. “Do I really have to wash?” “No you don’t, just go and splash around in the river”. “Do you want another glass of cider . . . ?”
- Have fun. This year one of the dads promised cocktails as we arrived; what he didn’t tell us was that he’d brought his whole James Bond get up to serve it in. Check out the flip flops too. A real highlight. He even had cufflinks.
I wrote a post a while back: 10 Tips for Camping With Kids and it’s still as relevant as ever. Let me know if there are any you would add.
I know camping isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, but honestly, it’s the stuff that childhood memories are made of.