Bad camping weekend: what to do differently?

(11 Posts)
treehugga Tue 27-Aug-13 13:49:46

Just back from family camping over bank holiday weekend with DP, DD (5yrs) and DS (2yrs) - plus some very nice, sane, calm friends. OK so it poured rain for 24 hours, OK so we forgot to change DS's nappy and he covered himself (then us) in crap head to toe, but that aside isn't it supposed to be fun?

Primarily myself to blame, as I got thoroughly stressed out, despite starting the weekend with a glass of wine before putting the tent up. Basically, family camping isn't the same as pre-family camping is it?

I used to travel light - even went camping on my bike once, with tiny tent & Trangia. DP isn't an experienced camper, so I tend to take over when he gets the guy ropes in a knot. And finally we have a new tent which is supposed to be a breeze to put up and take down (vango airbeam jobby), but actually isn't. Plus, the amount of stuff! We have table, chairs, campingaz stove - heck, it's a big job to put it all away again.

Need advice - do I need to man up or give up (for a few years)?

MummyPigsFatTummy Tue 27-Aug-13 13:56:00

No, no, don't give up! Your children are exactly the right age to LOVE camping. It does sound like you had a difficult time though and to be honest, if you had the torrential rain we had on Saturday, I don't blame you for finding it difficult.

Apart from the rain and the nappy incident (and by next year DS may be out of nappies anyway) what exactly was bad? Would it have helped to be nearer home or to have gone for less time, or more maybe, to make the pitching worthwhile? All these things can make a difference.

I think the amount of stuff you have to take does make you wonder sometimes if a weekend camp (or even a fortnight) is really worth it. But when you watch the children having a lovely time, and you sit back with a fire and a glass of wine, it really is.

MummyPigsFatTummy Tue 27-Aug-13 13:58:58

Not much useful advice in my last post really. I suppose you could just take a picnic balnket instead of table and chairs and, if it is affordable, perhaps have a pop up tent for weekends to save pitching a big family tent for short trips.

You could pre-cook things like spaghetti bolognese and chilli so you just have to warm up the food when you get there to save cooking time, or even eat out for some of your meals (we often have fish and chips on our first night camping to save having to cook as well as pitch).

Piffpaffpoff Tue 27-Aug-13 14:00:59

I think you need to man up! I know exactly what you mean though, the first few times we did it with the kids was a nightmare but it does get easier, honest!

A lot of it just comes with experience of learning what is the best way for you to get set up. When my two were smaller, the deal was that they had to stay in the car listening to a story CD til we at least had the tent up - it was way too stressful trying to sort the tent and keep an eye on them. Now that they are older (5 & 7) they get to come out and play, or can sit in the car and watch something on the iPad.I never relax in any shape or form until the tent is up and the beds are made. Oddly enough, I never find packing up as stressful as setting up - I think because you can just fling everything in the car willy-nilly.

I think the more times you do it, the more you get a feel for what you need and what you don't, plus the kids learn more about it and learn the camping 'rules', so to speak!

sadly it's never going to be as relaxing or laid back as just going as a twosome. But it does get better/easier - honest!

Interested to hear about the Airbeam as I quite fancy one, mainly because the poles on my Vango Icarus keep snapping. Was it not so easy to put up?

OonaghBhuna Tue 27-Aug-13 14:06:53

the packing really stresses me out, but now I keep boxes with just camping stuff, all things that are not perishable. I have a list on the computer that I just print off.Although we still forget things......Pre cook and pack frozen foods (suasages, burgers etc) Dont give up, the kids love it, and its such a good experience for them.
I think having kids means you have to be super organised, Im not a natural and this but I try and find ways to make life easier, I hate getting stressed out.

You took far too much stuff.

Start simple and build up (much like the advice when you first have a baby).

Take a tent, good bedding and loads of biscuits. Nappies and warm clothing and lots of wine.

Unless your in the middle of no-where you can get a hot drink before bed somewhere local, café for lunch and fish and chips for tea. Then, as you sit on your bed, eating your chips you can start to think what would improve your situation.

Perhaps some chairs? Perhaps not. It's fun snuggling with the kids over a bag of chips?

Perhaps ketchup? Perhaps not, too messy.

Perhaps a home-made cupper? Yes. We'll bring a flask to fill up at local café next time, or maybe stretch to a gas ring and a teabag.

Do it like that.......

mlamle Tue 27-Aug-13 14:27:15

rule number one, carry on with the pre-pitch wine...

If you're going with friends, you can probably cut down on some of the stuff you bring - e.g. if they can bring a stove then great.

I had a camping weekend once where it pissed it down on the second night; one of the families we'd gone with had a gazebo, which was a godsend in the circumstances. Think it'd cost them around £40 from Homebase...

Agree on having a camping box of stuff like camping crockery/cutlery etc ready to go whenever you fancy heading off. I've just packed all our stuff away after a trip, and made a point of remembering where I've stashed stuff (loft, mainly).

OonaghBhuna Tue 27-Aug-13 14:58:37

Agree wit the wine lo. We were away at the weekend and we decided that if it rains we will eat out/ or fish and chips etc. I also keep things in the car, already packed and ready, picnic blankets, buckets spades etc.

I find that whatever I do with the kids it is a military operation. The gazebos are a great idea, a friend bought a kitchen tent in Asda and it was really good.

Pootles2010 Tue 27-Aug-13 15:01:29

Oh god, we went too - it was horrific. Main rule of camping - if it forecasts rain, don't bloody go! Which I did actually know bangs head on desk

Also don't let your dp pack - he forgot torches and all of ds's bedding.

Agree with Starlight - less stuff is better. Fish & chips supper and one night stays is a good way to start.

CaptainSweatPants Tue 27-Aug-13 15:02:05

Having a hangover when camping is awful though grin

CbeebiesIsMyLife Tue 27-Aug-13 18:57:23

I agree with checking the weather forecast first!

although, actually find camping with less stuff more stressful. But then I do like to be prepared for every occasion and have loads of mod cons to make my life easier blush

As for the kids, a puddle suit and wellies and send them out in the rain. A good quality puddle suit will keep their clothes dry and they will love it!

(my kids are 1 and 2 btw, we also went the bank holiday weekend, and had lots of fun. although it only rained at night not while we were out in it. It is possible to enjoy camping with young kids. Honest!)

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