Family camping.
Family camping. Sue Clohesy

The calming side of the life in tents

"ARE we there yet?” "No.” "Are we there yet?” "No.” "Are we there yet?” "Yes.”

"No we're not,” cried my five-year-old. "Then why are you asking me?” I replied.

This was how much of what should have been a five-hour drive to Seventeen Seventy turned into a seven-hour one instead. That, and a lot of singing, eye-spy, counting cars and sleeping... and it was fun.

Family camping.
Family camping. Sue Clohesy

Watching the kids' innocent joy as new sights and sounds greeted them at every corner made the long trip and extra toilet stops all worth it. And when you've got the car packed to the hilt ready for a week of camping at the beach, there's plenty more to be excited about. I have many friends who turn their noses up at camping, especially with kids, but they don't realise what they're missing. Family time.

How much family time do you actually get in between school/child care, work, sports, groceries, cleaning? Camping is the perfect way to spend some quality time together in a different environment. An environment where you don't feel compelled to have to sweep the floors or answer the phone. Instead you can truly relax and unwind, and the kids love it.

They forget about technology and embrace what's before them. There's so much running, jumping, exploring and admiring to do all the time. It seems the great outdoors has a way of spellbinding the children.

There's something special about eating every meal outside, playing board games around a fire and reading books snuggled up on camping chairs. It reminds you to stop and take the time to enjoy the little things and the little ones in your life. So if you're ready for a new family adventure, give camping a go.

Don't get bogged down in the logistics of how much gear you need to have. If you're new to the scene, just purchase the essentials and make do with household items to fill in the gaps.

Then before each future camping trip purchase one new item for your camp kit. It won't take long before you'll have enough equipment to share with another family. We often choose camping spots that include toilets and showers (makes it easier with kids), but beyond that all you need is a nice relaxing location.

Camp kitchens are an added bonus to help with the washing up, but not necessary if you're organised. And if you're a little more daring or a camping pro, try staying at free camps on the way to your next destination.

Free camps are available in some of the most amazing places you would never have otherwise found and they make for a great family adventure.

Must-haves for camping with kids

Bikes/scooters - the kids can get busy on these while you are setting up camp so make them easy to unpack first.

Two pairs of shoes/thongs - things tend to get easily misplaced when camping and footwear is a must.

An activity pack - you can use these in the car to pass time and while at the camp site.

A large picnic rug or mat - set this up at camp for the kids to use as their play area for their toys.

A 15-20 litre water container and cups - set this up where everyone can reach it, it saves having to open eskies/fridges all day.

A battery-operated night light.


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