Top Tips for Camping with Children

At Cambridge Baby we love camping and spend a lot of time living in the great outdoors with children. Wendy takes the Brownies camping, Rosy and her children go camping with the Woodcraft folk. Nick, Helen and the girls have a lovely bell tent that they escape to the coast in. My family love finding a friendly farmers field to pitch our old dome tents somewhere beautiful.

The great thing about sharing an interest is being able to exchange tips and here are a few I picked up from chatting with the others in the shed.

1. Wendy's Welly Sticks- Find some sticks, stick them in the ground outside the tent and hang your muddy wellies upside down on them. In the morning you'll have a dry wellies and you won't be having to step over them all night. Genius.
2.Good Clothing - for us camping is all about living outdoors and you need to be dressed well to be comfy and happy. When camping in Freezing March and boiling July all of us wore our wool/silk vests. You can sleep in them, they're great under waterproofs on wet days and even have high UV protection on sunny days. Agnes says that they pack down wonderfully small and that spare ones make really comfy pillows. Waterproof dungarees are great for mud,rain and dew. Equally important are decent Sunhats that stay on for when natural shade is hard to find and the tent is too hot. Comfy waterproof shoes that kids can paddle in are brilliant for hot days.
3.Wear  and Air. Most children will be happy wearing the same clothes all week camping as long as they are dry and suited to the weather. Merino wool is especially good as it repels dirt and has antibacterial properties. So you only need one to wear and one to air. A tarp means you can string clothes out to dry/air even on rainy days. They are also great for creating shade or shelter from rain.  Creating an extra living area.
4. Sweet Dreams- Sleep is an essential element of happy camping. We learnt early that even a co-sleeping one month old can take up a lot of space. Sheepskins are great for little ones to sleep on and the double ones( if your lucky enough to have them) make airbeds and thermarests really comfy. We find a big duvet for us and then merino sleeping bags with either all in one pyjamas or  wool silk vests and leggings for the children work best. My merino vest kept me comfy in a freezing yurt in spring and a baking tent last weekend. Even I was surprised at just how nice it felt in very hot temperatures.
5. Buckets are great for carrying water/ washing up/washing/fridge (just put the milk in the water and a wet muslin over the top dipped in the water)/collecting mussels/blackberries etc etc.
6.Food One of the most exciting things about Famous Five stories is the food. Make mealtimes an experience by cooking round an open fire if possible or making exciting food that you can cook on a campstove. Even if it's just marshmallows.
Here is a recipe for bannock bread that children can toast on sticks

500 ml (2 cups) wholemeal flour
60 ml (1/4 cup) powdered milk
60 ml (1/4 cup) Muscavado sugar
125 ml (1/2 cup) raisins
30 ml (2 tablespoons) baking powder
1 ml (1/4 teaspoon) ground cinnamon
2.5 ml (1/2 teaspoon) salt
30 ml (2 tablespoons) plain flour
30 ml (2 tablespoons) oil
180 ml (3/4 cup) cold water
1. Before leaving, at home, combine the wholemeal flour, milk powder, raw sugar, fruit, baking powder, cinnamon and salt with a fork. Scoop in a container. Place the all-purpose flour and the oil in sealed containers, separately, for transportation. Be sure to have water at the campsite.
2. To prepare the bannock, pour the dry ingredients in a bowl and make a well in the center. Pour in the water at once and add as needed to obtain a supple dough. Stir until just moistened and handle the dough as little as possible. Sprinkle the dough with all-purpose flour so that it is no longer sticky. Form into a round loaf.
Cooking method
At the end of a stick is the kids preferred method of cooking. Divide the dough into four portions and roll each ball around the tip of a tree branch shaved of its bark. Rotate regularly over the fire until the bannock is golden brown. Remove the bread from the branch. Place on a plate and fill the hole with jam or peanut butter. On a camping stove, place the bannock on a lightly oiled nonstick pan. Cover and cook over low heat for about 15 minutes on each side or until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean.

7.Craft bag/basket. Every one loves collecting treasures. Take some wool  and bees wax, glue etc to modify,stick, collage and tie all the wonderful treasures you all find and make the into stories.

8. Freedom!!! The thing my children love most about camping is the freedom to roam, explore, play in the tent and make new friends all by themselves. Find a camp site that you are happy for your children to run around in  by themselves.

9. Enjoy being in nature. Take time with the children to listen to the night sounds, look at the stars and go on a early morning nature ramble at a time you'd normally be in bed.

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