Camping has always been an adventurous, fun and inexpensive holiday option for families. Over the years it's gone in and out of favour, but in these times of recession it's enjoying a boost in popularity as holidays abroad are outside most of our budgets.
For families with young children, camping is ideal as the children feel like it's a great adventure sleeping out in tents or a caravan. Plus parents can relax too, with the knowledge their children are getting plenty of fresh air, exercise and discovering new things all the time. No, there aren't all the mod cons of a hotel (or home) such as plasma televisions, computer games and PCs, but don't be put off. Camping these days does include electricity, hot water, toilets, televisions, WiFi, mobile phone reception and cooking facilities. Even if you are truly going back to basics 'under canvas' you can still access electricity and hot water in many campsites.
The big question is how do you keep the kids amused on camping holidays? It's easy if the weather is favourable, but let's face it, in this country that's never a given. Some campsites have onsite facilities such as a swimming pool, park areas and maybe lakes or rivers, but here are a few homemade ideas:
- Bubbles - bubbles work for kids of all ages. Make up a good bubble recipe before you leave and take hoops and bubble sticks too.
- Crafts - great for indoors or out. Outdoors, you can all gather pieces of nature for sticking into collages or make pebble pets such as ladybirds, spiders or frogs using suitable shaped pebbles. Indoors, you can get them to keep a diary each day of what they have been up to either using pictures or writing depending on their age and abilities. Take colouring pens, crayons, glue pots, colouring sheets, blank paper, word searches, pipe cleaners and paints with you and you are set to go.
- Balls - balls work for kids of all ages and abilities. Gets them (and you) moving and there are always games you can play.
- Den Building - teach the kids to build a den using dead wood sticks, not breaking branches off trees. All you need is some string!
- Outdoor Alphabet - challenge them to find outdoor things that begin with each letter of the alphabet.
- Card games - even small children can learn to play card games such as Snap and then work up to learning Rummy, Black Jack, Patience and Pontoon for example.
Common sense also says take with you a selection of favourite toys and portable games for times when outdoor activities just are not possible. However, if weather permits, let children be children and climb trees, make dens and mud pies, jump in muddy puddles, sleep out under the stars and explore to their hearts' content. Those are the holidays they will never forget.