Article appeared in PAKMAG March 2015
CONFIDENCE COMES FROM PLANNING AHEAD. THEN ADD A BIT OF TRIAL AND ERROR.
We were intrepid travellers, once. It was just the two of us, throwing everything into the four wheel drive and then adventuring into the bush to get away from it all. Then we became a family and my hair stood on end when I thought of toughing it out with kids, away from the safety and comforts of home.
Okay, I admit it. Our first camping trip with the little one was a disaster. We didn’t even get to stay overnight in the tent, torrential rain and gale force winds backed my demands that we stay in the cosy cabins I’d seen an hour or two back up the track. After that, we eased our way slowly back into the scene we loved so well, as we learnt on the job.
Why did we persist? Because a weekend’s camping is a whole weekend spent with your kids. It’s worth the extra workload and a few preparation headaches as your kids visibly start to unwind, interact with nature and bond with you. Get away from technology and spend time on old fashioned pleasures and your kids will seem healthier for it. Your kids will remember catching their first fish, or making marshmallows melt on the fire much more than their latest PlayStation score.
What did we learn? Firstly, that if you’re going to camp with kids you need to be a bit – no – a lot more organised than before. Plus you’ll have to start organising and packing much earlier than before. Get the kids involved, let them pack their own backpacks and they’ll start imagining a night in a tent under the stars in preparation.
MAKE A LIST OF EVERYTHING YOU’LL NEED:
- Camping and Recovery Gear
- Food and Cooking Equipment
- First Aid
- Kids / Your Needs (Clothing , Nappies etc)
WE KEEP OUR LIST HANDY AS WE PLAN. THEN, AFTER TRIPS WE ADD TO IT.
Until you’ve been a few times, you won’t know exactly what you want. Put up a big tarp with rush matting floor underneath for a shady quiet area. Hammocks are a huge source of fun too. Borrow from friends or grab a bargain from charity shops, garage sales and Facebook groups. Camping is meant to be affordable.
If you go off-road be prepared. The weather can be wonderful for you all weekend but over the hills it has been raining. Suddenly your journey home becomes quite different.
Keep it simple, make a meal plan and shop accordingly. Remember to add some basics so you can make damper or pancakes with the kids. Defrost a frozen favourite dinner on the journey then heat up for an easy first night. Remember to have your own water containers.
Expect the unexpected.
KIDS / YOU
Somehow it’s always colder and wetter than you expect. Remember to pack some extra layers even in our tropical summers. Kids can be too intimidated to “go” in the bush – a potty doesn’t take up much room. Torches are essential, pack at least one torch per person and add some extras.
Make the most of nature. Leave the laptop at home. Plan some ideas at home like scavenger hunts and pack some outdoor activities such as totem tennis, sand toys etc. Card games, pencils and books are great for rainy days. I promise, you’ll find it easier to pack every time.
Our friends even have a dedicated camping shelf made up in the car port so they can just load straight into the car. Living in North Queensland, it makes sense to have your tents, pots and pans, water containers etc ready to go. That way you are organised for a cyclone or tsunami evacuation too. So what’s my last piece of advice?
Use the daylight! Don’t try chopping vegetables in the dark with your rugrat poking sticks at the fire. Make lunchtime your main meal and feed again well before dark. That way you can enjoy finding fuel for the fire and relaxing under the stars. So go on, get out there and relive some childhood fun.
Visit the Bog Out website at www.bogout.com for a handy downloadable copy of the Aubin’s camping list and a Bog Out ladder board game that can be downloaded and printed for the kids to colour in.