By: Blonde Two
I’ve just been camping! With actual real live children!
‘Not unusual for you Blonde Two.’ I hear you say.
Well you are correct, but this time I wasn’t sheltering in the wilds of Dartmoor with the youth of today, I was pleasantly ensconced on an official campsite in North Devon; and the children weren’t teenagers.
A fair few years have passed since Mr Blonde Two and I first took Not-At-All-Blonde, Six-Foot-Blonde and Bearded-Blonde (you haven’t met him yet) camping in the Forest of Dean. We had a lovely time, and all of them have loved camping and the outdoors ever since.
This time, I wasn’t Mum; so I had the opportunity to watch the children as they enjoyed camping. I also had a chance to ponder the reasons why I have spent so much of my life camping with youngsters. It is definitely good for them, a developmental experience if you like; and I think I have managed to work out why.
Camping creates problems. Lots of problems: How shall we cook? How shall we stay dry? How shall we entertain ourselves? But problems are not necessary bad; problems, if we are given the opportunity to solve them ourselves, are very good for us.
Camping creates little child-sized problems as well as big adult-sized one. For example, I witnessed Small-One and Small-Two sort out how to manage a trip up to the campsite shop. Not too tricky, but throw in a rather large dog, and an even larger desire to be in charge of her, and hey presto you have a couple of problems (dog throwing is not actually recommended).
A bit of discussion led to a plan that meant that both of them had a turn dog-lead-holding, and both of them got to go into the shop for sweet-buying. A problem solved independently of adult supervision; and the solving opportunities continued:
How do you pick up a toad and move it to safety?
What do you do if you are sent to buy croissants and the shop has doughnuts?
How can you improvise a torch?
Can a dog drink out of an inverted frisbee?
Where can you hide when it all gets a bit much?
So, if you think your kids need a bit of personal development; take them camping. You may well come home wet, muddy and more tired than you have ever been before; but they will come home with some very, very important new life-skills!