Things to do with kids (including older kids) No. 8 – Camping

I’ve always loved camping. I used to do proper camping of course – the sort where you had to get out of the tent in the middle of the night in the pouring rain to loosen the guy ropes, and where we made a sink by lashing together 4 broom handles, some bamboo canes and a washing up bowl (which inevitably hit the floor full of soapy water once a day at the least.) Every day we remade the bedding roll rack that fell apart and no-one bothered to use the lovingly made personal washing tripod – we made do with a mid week trip to the swimming pool instead. Ah happy, grubby, days.

As a parent of the modern age, of course ,camping is a lot easier than this (although arguably, therefore, a bit less fun). Tents are waterproof now and have actual floors. Campsites have wash blocks and recycling facilities. It’s a reasonably priced way of having a family holiday. You may come home quite knackered with a dodgy back, but it’s a small price to pay for a week of memories.

We’ve camped lots of times over the years where our kids were small. We’ve cleaned babies in washing up bowls, battled to get toddlers to sleep and, once they were finally down, sat with a glass of wine watching the sunset, feeling chilled and positive about the world. I’ve picked little ones up off the floor, when they fell off the airbed still fast asleep and struggled to warm their milk on a tiny gas stove. All memories I wouldn’t part with, but quite hard work.

Now they are older camping is different again. There is very little hassle at all. They attempt to help with the tent. They sit and read books for ages. This year we picked a site with a fire pit at each pitch meaning evenings could be filled with open fire cooking, marshmallows and wood smoke. I never minded camping with toddlers but now, oh it’s so much easier. If they wake in the night they can go for the inevitable loo visit on their own (although to be fair my aged nature means once awake I usually have to go with them). Plus they can actually wash up. I don’t feel the sense of embarrassment that comes from trying to shush a wide awake toddler at 5am on a silent campsite – if anything they now have an actual lie in. They do demand entertaining a bit because we don’t take tablets with us so there is a need to play tailball, frisbee, card games and even this year, charades, so brace yourselves for a full on family experience.

This year we went to The Hideaway at Baxby Manor, deciding we would stay a little closer to home. Our week was filled with walks, a theme park, York, museums, castles, abbeys and a quick trip to Saltburn to taste the sea air (and the fish and chips). The site is fairly small but the facilities are excellent – a clean modern wash block, drying room, fridge and freezer to use (or electric pitches) and a well stocked shop. It’s a site with an eco ethos and a lot of heart. We’ll be back, but hopefully next time in a Hobbit House because I want to pretend I’m Martin Freeman.

The camping season is coming to an end for 2018, but we will be back for more in 2019. If you haven’t tried it, I’d highly recommend it. Unless you have a bad back.

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