Camping With Kids by Simon McGrath

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Camping With Kids by Simon McGrath

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Category: Home and Family
Rating: 4.5/5
Reviewer: Sue Magee
Reviewed by Sue Magee
Summary: Over 400 ideas for getting the most out of going camping with kids, from tots to teens. Highly recommended.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 272 Date: March 2017
Publisher: AA Publishing
ISBN: 978-0749576974

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When my daughter was young it used to be joked that if a child asked on his fifth birthday to go camping and you told him that he could in five years' time, he'd be there on his tenth birthday, all kitted up and ready to go. These days the discussions - and delaying tactics - are more likely to be about technology - and mobiles in particular. Whilst it's wonderful that children do embrace technology, it shouldn't be at the expense of getting out in the fresh air, being free of screens and having an adventure - preferably with all the family doing it together.

Simon McGrath, editor in chief of Camping and Caravanning Magazine not only has professional experience of what he's writing about, it's something which he regularly puts into practice with his own family. The book has a simple and user-friendly format, beginning with an introduction from television presenter and president of The Camping and Caravanning Club, Julia Bradbury who tells us why she thinks that it's important that kids are 'rewilded'. McGrath is completely in agreement with this and he sets out to help us get the most out of camping in seven chapters, each of which is packed with sensible advice and fun ideas.

Getting there and Pitching Up is a clever title because 'getting there' doesn't just mean the journey to wherever you're going. Have a few goes at pitching the tent in the garden and even spending a few nights under canvas before you do it for real. Plan on how to keep the kids involved on the journey too. There's lots of information on different types of camping and even on making your tent stand out from the crowd.

Reconnecting with Nature might sound obvious, but McGrath goes into rather more detail than just taking a walk in the woods. There's even information about experiencing a cloud inversion! Some of it is going to mean getting dirty (mud pies, anyone?) but there are skills in here (such as orienteering) which are going to stand kids in good stead for life.

Learning Ancient Skills is going to appeal to kids. It's the way our ancestors (you know - the ones even older than the grandparents) had to live if they were going to survive. There's building a den, tying knots, building a campfire (including what to do around it) and woodcraft. You could build you own wash stand in a matter of minutes. It's the stuff I learned as a Girl Guide more than half a century ago and whilst I might not have had to do many of these things in the intervening years, what it taught me was an attitude to living which has stood me in good stead.

The illustrations which open Games and Activities mislead because this chapter's much wider than just remembering to take a few board games with you (useful as these can be - particularly if the weather is bad). Activities away from the campsite are obviously dependant on the area you're visiting, but there's a wide range of games and activities which will appeal to all age groups. In fact, I'm going to use quite a few of them when I have young visitors!

Night-time Fun looks at the time which is going to be really different for kids: you don't sleep in your bedroom. Being comfortable enough to sleep well is important - no one relishes the idea of a grumpy, sleep-deprived child the next day, but there are lots of games you can play and experiences you can have in the dark. Stargazing is probably obvious, but don't overlook bat spotting and games such as torchlight hide and seek - and there are pages of other ideas.

I loved Classic Campsite Cookery! For me that was always the most fun part of camping - cooking a meal on an open fire and then eating it in the glow of the embers. There are instructions on how to safely build a fire and cook over it. Grandma's Corn Beef Hash sounds tasty and isn't too difficult - and crumble in a package isn't as complicated as it sounds! You get a good range of recipes and ideas for food - I suspect that the one-pan breakfast will get the most takers.

Active Young Explorers builds on some of the ideas in the chapter on Games and Activities and looks at such activities as navigation, exploration of beaches, farmyards and uplands. It's full of great advice such as how to use your watch as compass (sun and a watch required) and what you should have in your backpack, but there's enough in this section to keep you going for months. In fact the final pieces are suggestions as to what you can do in each of the four seasons.

It's a great, inspirational book, which will repay lots more than the very reasonable cover price. I'd like to thank the publishers for sending a copy to the Bookbag.

If you're looking for somewhere special to camp we can recommend Tiny Campsites: 80 Perfect Little Places to Pitch by Dixe Wills. Younger children who like the idea of camping will love Eddie's Tent and How to go Camping by Sarah Garland.

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