I started camping when I was in the Scouts, and enjoyed it from the very first. There was something refreshing about waking up surrounded by nature, and I always slept well in the fresh air – sometimes in the summer I’d even camp out in the back garden, just for the fun of it. My parents, who didn’t fancy the idea of roughing it, never quite understood why I liked it so much.
Camping wasn’t one of those foibles my wife understood; she preferred time in a hotel and spent at the beach, so I used to take short camping trips – two or three days – with friends a few times a year. Those were great, being with people who loved camping as much as I did.
As we had a couple of kids, however, I decided that I wanted my family to enjoy camping and being out in the open as much as I did. I knew it would be an uphill struggle with my wife, but there was a chance with the kids, who were six and eight by that time.
First Time Camping With the Family
If my family was going to be interested it had to seem like fun, a real adventure, so they could enter into the spirit of things. That meant some careful planning. They’d been wanting to go to a theme park, so I arranged the tickets, and booked us into a campground not too far away overnight.
My wife saw through it all immediately, of course, but the children were too excited about the trip to worry about the idea of camping. I borrowed a second tent, and after a full day of rides and fun we reached the campground in the early evening. The kids were still excited, and the novelty of camping simply added to making the trip feel special for them. A new air mattress placated my wife, who ended up – she admitted – having a fantastic night’s sleep.
Doing a Bit More Camping
With one good experience under our belts, later the same summer I suggested a weekend away for us all (we’d had a hotel holiday in between). It would be a good way to end the holidays before school started again.
Once again, I cunningly arranged it so we were not too far from an attraction. Again, it worked, everyone had a great time, so over the winter I gradually dropped hints about a camping holiday the following year. We could have a week camping and a week abroad in a hotel, so we’d have the best of both worlds.
My wife, bless her, was willing and not too reluctant any more, although she had her doubts about a full week in a tent. The kids were far more enthusiastic, although I knew they’d need entertaining during the day.
Again, planning was the key. I made sure there were daily activities, and we ate out in the evenings, which I wouldn’t normally have done. But it worked. By the end of the week everyone agreed it had been great fun, and they all – even my wife – wanted to do it again the following year.
That was a few years ago. My kids are teens now, and every year we fit in a week of camping. There’s not the same need to fill the days, they enjoy some hiking, and my son, who’s turned 18, has done his first festival as a camper, coming home to laugh at how unprepared so many others were.
Will my kids go camping with friends of their own families in the future? Hopefully. I’ve already told them how I gradually seduced them into it, so they can make their own plans. My wife enjoys camping these days, as long as I’m still willing to spend a week in a hotel later to make up for it. So, all in all, it’s worked out as perfectly as I could have hoped.