I firmly believe that the more you push a child into doing something then the more they will push back in the opposite direction. The key is tricking them into believing that it was their idea in the first place and from musical preferences to sporting allegiances, where there’s a will there’s an opposing way.
In this instance, I’d like to impart to you my five step plan for getting my kids interested in camping. Personally, I can’t think of a better way of getting together as a family and having fun in the great outdoors. As I have a wife and two daughters to contend with, my own vision of heaven is often perceived as something quite the contrary however, this hasn’t stopped me in my quest for creating camping companions.
Yes, things may get tough and, yes, there will be tears, but with a resolute common sense approach I have no fear that in five years’ time my teenage children will be begging to go camping with their old man.
Stage One: Wendy House
Before you even venture outside there are opportunities to get your kids into camping within the sanctity of your own home. Purchasing a Wendy House, wigwam or just throwing a blanket over two chairs is basically camping. Tea parties, sleep-overs and reading by torchlight can all take place in an indoor tent and nobody whinges about getting too cold or having to pee in a bucket.
Stage Two: The garden
What an adventure that first foray onto the lawn will be: setting up the tent, drinking a hot cup of tea and chocolate biscuits before zipping up our sleeping bags and listening to the sounds of the night. This second step is vital for testing your child’s resolve to the forces of nature and once they’ve become used to the cold, lumpy ground and hedgehogs then they’ll be starting on the road to Step Five: Summer youth camp.
Stage Three: Get them involved
Now this is a key period in your child’s development from Barbie/Ken to Action Man/GI Jane, what I’m about to say is crucial and could result in thousands of pounds saved on family holidays for years to come. Get them involved! From helping to pack ground sheets and roll sleeping bags to assembling poles and cooking sausages, it’s imperative that your little campers consider themselves to be essential to the whole process and not just spare pegs sitting around watching and getting bored. <
Stage Four: Local sites
Find a site that’s within a 2mile radius of your house, pick a lovely warm weekend and then go for it. The reason you don’t want to stray too far is just in case you leave something of importance behind or if it tips down with rain and your family bonding weekend turns into a scene from Apocalypse Now. Sites with other families, swimming pools and activity centres are a great choice although, if you’re feeling brave, there’s nothing better than a field, a tap and Mother Nature to instil some good old-fashioned imaginative play. Note: I recommend one night at first with the option of staying another if things go well.
Stage Five: Youth camp
If at first you don’t succeed then let someone else do it. Organised summer camps are a stunningly simple way to offload your off-spring to some jolly outdoor sorts who are quite capable of inspiring both a love of camping as well as a love of living away from home. All that’s left for you to do is put your feet up and enjoy the fruits of your labour or, alternatively, go for a cheeky weekend break to Paris while the kids are away having fun at camp.
Bio of Author: Chris is currently at Stage One of his daughters’ camping initiation programme and is pleasantly surprised by how easily they’ve taken to refurbishing their make-shift bedroom tepee.