Camping is a great Australian past time, and has been for years. Some of my greatest childhood memories are that of camping with family and friends. These days as a family we camp in a Caravan (Jayco Expanda) and love it, however it wasn’t always this way. As a child we camped in heavy canvas tents, had bush toilets (a hole in the ground, with a nice seat on top and a canvas room erected around for some privacy) and a bush shower (the solar kind that hung from a tree and would only give you a couple on minutes of water) and there was of course no power. I could still easily camp like that and I have, but these days we usually put down our roots at a caravan park, with amenities such as toilet blocks and kiosks.
After our recent three-week camping trip down the coast, I’ve been thinking about the benefits of camping with children and how Phoebe has changed in our short time away. I could probably prattle on all day, but instead I jotted down the things that sprung to mind straight away and thought I may share them with you. Obviously, this is completely my opinion, but I would love to hear what you think too.
1. Camping is inclusive – these days camping can be as expensive or as inexpensive as you want or your family can afford. There is so much choice around. You can camp by a river, in a National Park for instance for free. Or you can camp at a caravan park where there is still an abundance of choice, from unpowered and powered sites as well as some pretty spectacular cabins. You can choose to eat our regularly or cook your own to save on costs too. Tents, camper trailers, caravans, we all start somewhere.
2. Community – when you camp, there is a difference sense of community and a different set of rules too. As soon as your new home is erected, you’ll find yourself talking to strangers and your kids making friends with the neighbours. Rarely do you worry about locking things up, it’s an unwritten rule that you don’t touch anyones camping equipment. If a gale starts a blowing, everyone seems to whip into a frenzy helping each other peg down gazebos and batten down the hatches. There is a definite feeling of generosity, and community when camping that seems to have disappeared somewhat in our local streets.
3. Independence – even at the age of four, Phoebe who is quite independent anyway became even more so on our latest trip. She would be off for hours playing with her new friends, organise her own snacks and drinks (she would ask first of course), assist with cooking and preparing dinner, make her own bed each morning, choose her clothes for the day based on the weather and put her washing away. We promote it while we are away and then build on it once we are home.
4. Fun, fun, fun – it’s amazing how kids when given the opportunity can make their own fun without the needs of technology and toys. Cubby house making, games, make-believe, riding bikes, exploring and taking walks, can open up a different world to our children….one that we knew well as we were growing up but sadly many don’t these days.
5. Family time and relaxation – there is nothing better than spending time together as a family. Camping is awesome for this! Sitting down at the dinner table each night eating together (which is a rarity in some homes), singing songs around a camp fire and telling stories. Taking day trips and bike rides together, exploring unknown places, and sharing knowledge with your children. Your children see you in a different light and you will see them differently too.
So these are my Top 5, I could easily add more. What would you add from your experiences? Do you camp?