Anna Campbell—The suggestion of combining children with camping might be a hard sell for some families. Let’s be honest, forcibly removing the kids from their phones and tablets, plonking them in the middle of a forest, then getting them to help you set up a tent – for a week or longer – can sound like a bit of a nightmare.
Nonetheless, there are some fantastic benefits that children will miss out on if they never get to try their hand at camping, which could make the whole holiday (nightmares and all) well worth it.
They'll learn new skills.
One of the greatest aspects of camping is that it forces you to rely on yourself. You have to erect your own shelter, build your own fire and cook your own food. Admittedly, some campsites offer all the amenities you need, but if you’re going to do it ‘properly,’ you’ll want to get as basic as possible.
This is a brilliant way to get your kids to learn some survival skills they might never learn otherwise (it will be important to learn how to do these things yourself first, of course). To be fair, you might never need to know how to build a fire, but it’s still important to know how. People often end up in dangerous situations by mistake and basic survival skills can make all the difference. That might sound a little overdramatic, but who knows when your car might break down in winter, miles from the nearest town.
It's good for their health.
There’s also a lot to be said for the health benefits of a camping holiday. For a start, it means getting away from all the artificial light we’re exposed to on a daily basis. Why is this important? Well, keeping our circadian rhythm in check – essentially the body’s natural cycle – is good for us, particularly when it comes to sleep. Being exposed to the sun’s natural light cycle plays a big part in that and that’s something we don’t really experience much anymore. A week away from street lights and bedside lamps can do wonders.
There’s also the fact that camping gets you away from the air pollution of cities and towns. It’s widely known that this can cause respiratory illnesses and it’s also said to be a contributing factor towards 29,000 premature deaths every year. If your child has asthma, getting some fresh air away from traffic fumes will be a welcome respite.
Camping is a great opportunity to get your kids exercising too, which is beneficial for the mind and body. Taking a hike, going for a bike ride, even chopping wood can get the heart pumping and burn calories. It also gives you a chance to enjoy a healthy diet. Microwaveable or convenience meals aren’t so easy to cook out in the forest, so you can plan out a healthy set of meals you can make from scratch – another useful skill for the kids, come to think of it.
It helps build family relationships.
There’s plenty of talk about how the increasing use of technology by children is causing problems with family relationships. Not everyone agrees of course, technology can be a great way to connect with family members as well, but it must be admitted that a smartphone or tablet encourages individual rather than group activities – although admittedly the same can be said for books too.
In the end, it’s never a bad thing to have the family engaging in activities together. The fewer barriers in the way, the easier this is, and camping can be a way to knock some of them down for a while. By getting everyone to join in with planning the trip, setting up on arrival, and taking part in physical activities, you can have everyone talking and enjoying each other’s company in a way that can sometimes be tough to encourage.
Where to Go:
For an enjoyable holiday, it’s important to find the right campsite based on your needs. Some families will be happy to head right out into the wilderness, while others might want to be a bit closer to home comforts. Here are a few resources that will help you find the best place for you and the kids:
ukcampsite.co.uk – This is perfect if you’ve already got an area to visit in mind. There’s even a chance to win a prize when you submit a review of a campsite.
Cool Camping – If you’re after something a bit different from a normal campsite, like glamping or korowai camping, take a look at this.
UK Campsite Finder – This map gives you a bunch of really good campsites if you don’t want to sift through a massive list of them.
Pitch Up – This one is particularly good if you want to go abroad, plus you can search by festival too.