GET YOUR HEAD AROUND IT
There’s no cocktail bar, all-inclusive buffet, maybe not even wi-fi, but camping is a great way of switching off, living in the moment and connecting with the natural environment. It’s all about experiencing a different side of life for kids, so embrace the change of pace and let the fun begin.
You might think you want a huge, state-ofthe-art tent, but consider how long you want to spend putting it up and taking it down, how it will be transported and where you’re going to store it.
Robust, but heavy, frame tents – those famous blue and orange numbers with plastic windows from the 70s – give the best headroom, living space and you can make separate compartments for bedrooms.
Dome tents are a trendy option, come in different sizes and are simple to erect using lightweight poles.
Tunnel tents, hung from arched poles, are lightweight and pack up small – good if walking or cycling between campsites.
Do a trial run putting it up beforehand.
Take extra tent pegs and a mallet.
When purchasing a stove, think about the size of your group, eco-friendliness and weight. If travelling by car, a multi-burner is a good option. Look for features including a grill, push-button ignition, adjustable flame and wind-shield. Single burners are best for backbackers.
Never cook inside your tent. For wet-weather cooking, make a tarpaulin shelter or buy a cheap gazebo.
Store perishables in an icebox or small, plug-in fridge if your site has electric hook-ups. Dispose of rubbish and recycling in the correct bins.
Arrive as early as you can. A considered discussion in daylight over which way to face the door is less stressful than shouting through the dark.
On higher ground you are more exposed to the wind, so try to use hedges as natural windbreaks. Don’t camp under trees – in strong winds branches could come crashing down on you.
Waterside pitches can be idyllic – the sound of rivers can be so relaxing and filter out noise. But they can be hazardous in wet weather and attract insects.
Choose a flat pitch and remove any stones and sticks. If on a slope, make your bed with the pillows at the top. Check for wasps and ants nests.
Consider the distance from the loo block, water tap, bins.
When your tent is up, keep the sleeping area free from muddy footwear. Store food and a light near the doorway.
So much more than just for cooking and heat, the dancing flames create a warm glow bringing campers together.
To build a fire create a small, loose pile of tinder, allowing space for air to get to it, then build a pyramid of kindling wood around it. As the fire grows in strength, add bigger pieces of wood.
Never use petrol or lighter fluid to light it. Keep a water supply nearby.
If cooking on a campfire, wait until the wood has turned white and the flames have died down to avoid burning grilled food. One-pot wonders such as stews, risottos and curries are easy crowd-pleasers.
What is acceptable to you – your little angels “enjoying their freedom” running around the grass at dawn, “jolly singing” around the campfire at midnight, Fido “being friendly” with his exuberant barking, might be annoying to others, so be aware of basic camping manners.
Don’t be tempted to use someone else’s pitch as a shortcut – they’ve paid for that space and social distancing rules still apply.
Kids aren’t as sensitive to volume as adults, so use family areas if camping with children. Don’t take it personally if someone asks you to be a teensy bit quieter at 7am on a Sunday.
Dog owners should seek out dogfriendly campsites or designated areas for campers with dogs.
If your campsite allows cars on pitches, don’t block someone else’s view with yours.
Don’t hog showers in the mornings and be sparing with the hot water.
For a squat-and-bury loo scenario, dig a hole at least 500ft from your camp, then fill it in and cover with leaves/twigs.
Dispose of loo roll in a bin.
FUN AND GAMES
To keep mixed groups amused, organise a sports day with running races, obstacle courses, throwing competitions.
Kids love leapfrog, hide-and-seek, making daisy chains, building dens, creating art using sticks and leaves, going on treasure hunts.
If you’re near water, skim stones, play pooh-sticks, go crabbing, rock-pooling, beach-combing.
On rainy days, play welly wanging, have a water fight, go wild swimming. Or snuggle inside your tent and play cards, board games, charades or just go back to bed.
Nature is the star attraction on camping holidays and a trip to the sunset is a great excursion. Simply hike to the best viewing spot – a hilltop, a mountain ridge, beach, open space – then watch the changing light and vivid colours.
Stargazing is a stellar night out. Find the darkest spot around, relax your eyes without staring at a specific spot, then look for shooting stars, meteor showers and constellations.
Or get up early and watch the sunrise with a flask of tea.
Along with all the obvious – the tent, stove, bedding, crockery, waterproofs etc – these items make living outdoors that little bit slicker… ? Torch with extra batteries, camp lamp, matches ? Scissors, rope (to make a washing line) ? Toiletries, protective suncream, insect repellent, wet wipes ? Water container filled with water ? Wellies, swimwear, sunglasses, earplugs ? First aid kit ? Something to sit on ? Dustpan and brush for sweeping tent ? Washing-up bowl, tea towels, tin foil, bottle opener, tin opener, corkscrew, bin bags ? Power bank for electronic devices. ? Plastic containers for storing food.
STILL NOT SURE?
Cool Camping offers 114 sites across the UK with a booking guarantee during the Coronavirus pandemic with financial security and safety on site.Top spots include: Tremorvu Campsite, Cornwall This quiet, family-run campsite, between the beaches of Praa Sands and Porthleven, offers a natural viewing platform for Atlantic sunsets up on Tregonning Hill.
Lanefoot Farm, Keswick, Cumbria Love views? Pitch up in the big open field with a stonking view of Skiddaw.Taking the kids? Head for the family field.
Glamping options also available.
Graig Wen, north Wales Situated in the south-west corner of the Snowdonia National Park, it has amazing views over the Mawddach Estuary curling down to Cardigan Bay.
To book and for more options see coolcamping.com
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