I grew-up in a family that liked to camp. We spent many a summer in various campsites around France, lots of weekend on Scout and Guide camps and even a few holidays in a camper van exploring Canada and America. I think it is probably safe to say that some of my favourite, worst and most hilarious memories involved camping. For example:
The time we thought a bear was eating Doritos in the front of our camper van and I woke up to see my Dad brandishing a broom and ready for a fight (it’s far more likely to have been a raccoon but it didn’t stay long enough for us to find out).
The night we lay in a damp Canadian field staring at more stars than I’ve ever seen before or again.
Almost getting banned from Guide camp for telling ghost stories.
Our campsite becoming so flooded that we decided to just have a water fight.
Rescuing a fallen nest of baby birds.
Completing my Gold Duke of Edinburgh expedition.
Cooking on an open fire.
Asking for ‘des frites’ at the campsite café while holding up the largest pan we had.
Every single sunset.
Talking all night.
Burying a sheep.
Being attacked by a sheep (the two were not related).
I’m now getting far too distracted remembering different stories…Anyway, for a variety of reasons, I haven’t been camping in a very, very long time. However,I really wanted to be able to offer the same opportunities to my children. Luckily, both my brothers feel the same way, and so when one of them told me he was planning a camping trip for his children, I asked if I could come along. I had absolutely no equipment but some lovely friends of mine let me borrow some of theirs. Little did I know that they were veteran campers who have practically every piece of camping equipment you could dream of. I couldn’t believe how full my car was with stuff! It was brilliant!
As my brother was working, I decided we would get to the campsite earlier to set up our tent and get a fire going. Earlier in the week I had visited a local park where my friend taught me how to pitch the tent so I was feeling pretty confident. Apparently pitching a large tent with the help of two small children is not as easy as doing it with three grown adults. Who knew? Thankfully some fellow campers took pity on us and helped me get it up. I then got the fire pit out and we waited for my brother to arrive.
The weekend was wonderful. The children played, picked blackberries, climbed trees (ridiculously high ones), toasted marshmallows, explored, made friends, picked more blackberries and got very mucky. My brother and I drank a lot of tea and coffee, played badminton and talked about all manner of important and unimportant things.
We saw an incredible sunset and watched a small aeroplane practise some death defying tricks. At night it was so cold I thought I was going to die, so at one point we did have to make a sneaky trip into town for more layers and a Nando’s…but…I think that is a forgivable offence.
I’d forgotten how wonderful it is to just be outdoors and how much fun it is to just forget about all other responsibilities- apart from keeping everyone alive. Speaking of which, this is the enormous tree they were all climbing…to the top:
We all had so much fun that we’ve decided to make it an annual event. Next time my other brother will also be coming with his children. We’re definitely going to need a bigger tent.