It seems we’ve crossed over to the dark side. Dark, as in, trying to find the toilet at 3am with a flickering torch kind of dark. We went camping. With kids. Hold me.
I realise that this sort of family outdoorsiness* is completely normal for a lot of you, but for Team Charming last weekend was a first. We ventured out to Neurum Creek, a rustic retreat about an hour from Brisbane, to see what all the family camping fuss was about. The elders of the tribe had a little experience to fall back on, but we’d never braved campfire life with the full famous five.
Try it, you might like it
Like all good addictions, we were tempted into camping by friends who enjoy a regular hit; who promised we’d like it if only we’d give it a try. They made it easy for us to get on board, offering to organise the deal and share their gear. And now we’ve had a taste, we’ll probably do it again … and again. Addiction is a slippery slope.
Speaking of slippery slopes…it rained. Camped, as we were, beside a creek, we were already running an ad hoc laundry on ropes across the back of the tent, as children came and went with mud-crusted clothing and soggy shoes. When the heavens opened we had to write off the possibility of cleanliness and descend, Lord of the Flies style, into a state of anarchy, where spending the day in your PJs was fine, because you literally had no other dry vestments.
We learned many lessons about how and what to pack for this type of bush holiday, where the term ‘feral’ applies more to the children than the wildlife. Fewer toys and space-sucking towels, for example. More socks and undies – always more.
Where’s the fun in spending half a day building my own kitchen?
I am not dirt-phobic, nor a precious princess who doesn’t go on holidays without the availability of a day spa, but camping with kids has always looked like such hard work. As a colleague said, “where is the fun in spending half a day building my own kitchen?” I’ve been put off camping by the thought of spending my hard-earned ‘break’ doing more cooking and cleaning that I’d normally do at home.
This particular campsite made things easy with their rent-a-tent option. This means you turn up to find a tent, mattresses and picnic table ready to go, leaving you only the kitchen to build. The rest of the hard work is based around keeping wet feet out of the tent and throwing
fish fruit into the mouths of perpetually hungry squawking seagulls children.
I wasn’t wrong, though. Camping does require some major planning, organising and effort, BUT, to my great surprise it was still relaxing. The cooking took a bit of out of the box thinking, but was ultimately simple, tasty and involved minimal washing up! The kids were occupied by wholesome pursuits like mud wallowing, fire building and talking to strangers (good parenting 101). Screen time was reduced (for adults and kids alike) to a few quick weather checks or photo opportunities.
The adults spent a remarkable amount of time just sitting – watching the fire, enjoying a drink, bonding with kids. It’s amazing how peaceful life can be when you have nowhere else to be and no outstanding chores beckoning from the laundry or the laptop.
We returned feeling refreshed by our baptism of fire, even though it rained and Mt Washmore still shows no signs of erosion. Turns out camping, even with kids, is well worth the work involved. The challenge now is to go harder and further afield. Got any fields to recommend?
Are you a camping clan? What are your top tips for camping with kids?
*made up word.