There will be dads like me, who have misplaced the primus stove, lost their swiss army knife and clip-together cutlery set, perhaps around about the same time as we started being one half of a couple.
And now we want to take the little ‘uns on a camping trip, and we can’t remember what we need, or even if we still have it somewhere in the loft.
Well, here’s part one of a set of handy hints guaranteed to kick-start your inventory list and set your confidence soaring so much so that your kids will think you’re Tarzan, Mrs Doubtfire and the A-team all rolled into one! For the sake of argument, lets assume the kids are under 10, and quite excited.
Size matters. Always take a tent a size up. So if you are one dad and two kids, you want a four man tent. Unless you want your camping adventure to be a contact sport.
Tools. Take a mallet to hammer home the pegs. Yes you do need one! Six bent pegs, a bruised foot, and a collapsed tent at 3am teaches you this.
By all means take a leatherman. Just don’t paint your face green and start dressing everyone in army surplus gear.
And on that note, an eight-inch knife with a compass on the end of the handle is an accident waiting to happen. (Look out for part 2 of this guide to help identify and steer clear of shonky kit).
Good tent keeping. Your groundsheet will at some point be punctured – duct tape will do the repair job and keep insects out.
Keep your supplies undercover but outside your sleeping pod at night – in the small front section of your tent is best. It’s nature’s fridge.
Bless you! You’ll not regret packing a box of tissues and a ‘handy pack’ of hankies. Great for mopping up everything. Works well as kindling for the fire. Invaluable for the al fresco comfort break!
Feed me now. Plan for cold meals! If you can get through breakfast and/or lunch without having to do too much cooking, you’ll be less dependent on the weather, and have more time to get out there and do wild silly stuff together.
Make ahead some sandwiches and freeze them. Throw ’em in the cool bag with some ice blocks. They’ll be good for days.
Jam sandwiches, cheese & ham butties, a few cured sausages, chocolate and bundles of fruit should be in the coolbag too. If you wrap the sandwiches in tin foil, you can re-use the it for baked potatoes, and other useful things.
Don’t forget some ryebread and some chocolate spread – an excellent and easy breakfast treat.
When it comes to hot food, let children eat their weight in sausages, and do not be too proud to pack a potted noodle. Things taste different outdoors.
Dessert should be served immediately after every meal, if not sooner.
Better than cups! Pack your sports water bottles. Inside the tent they wont spill too much liquid, and little flies won’t paddle around in them. They have many of uses, including makeshift waterpistols.
Shower time. Forget the shampoo and the conditioner. All you need to wash a child is a bar of soap. And a child, of course.
A camping toy box. You can add to this, but a pack of playing cards, kite, binoculars, activity books, and a beach ball is a good starting point. Try to leave the laptop at home. Do not forget teddy.
Do EVERYTHING together. Kids are capable. A child who can barely button up a jacket will surprise you by being able to build fires, put up a tent, read maps and so much more. Let them help you with every task and every challenge.
If it wasnae for your wellies. One piece of footwear you must pack is the wellies. And if your kids are not going hiking, they’ll not need hiking boots.
First aid. Waterproof plasters, Calpol, antiseptic gel, and a generous supply of kiss-it-better will usually be just the ticket for most camping adventures.
Getting things dry. If it’s raining, wet socks and wet shoes can dry well on the dashboard of a moving vehicle and a towel will dry nicely on the parcel shelf. In dry weather a guy rope is a handy washing line, so pack a few pegs.
Be the dad. Know where everyone is, and make sure mum knows where that place is. Keep the phone charged, and let the kids call mum often. Make sure they are asleep before you are. Mum can stay up as late as she likes, as she has a bottle of red, and a box set of Baz Luhrmann dvds to get through.
On a serious note, know that tents and clothes can be extremely flammable – take care.
Lastly don’t be a camping nazi. It should be fun. If the fire won’t start, don’t be eating tins of cold beans – find a chip shop for goodness sake, or better still, break out the mars bars! And after that, have a midnight feast, tell ghost stories, fart well and laugh loud.
Camping guide for dads part 2 coming soon!
- Wet socks, fox, vikings and marshmallows (rennyrambles.wordpress.com)