Camping with a toddler

Last weekend, we went camping with our fifteen month old son. It was our third camping trip, but this time it was a bit different. We were one of about fifty families who were at the 2014 Sling Dads Family Camp at Sherratts Wood in Staffordshire. Sling Dads are a group who promote baby wearing and its benefits for dads. On their website, they talked about their reasons for planning a camp back in February.

On this blog, I’ve talked about baby wearing a few times. Last October, I blogged about going to a village called Sling to mark International Babywearing Week and also attitudes to baby wearing from around the world. In February of this year, I wrote about how taking our son to the supermarket in a sling had become a father and son bonding activity.

The previous time we’d stayed in a tent with our son, he was just under four months old. With him now being older and more mobile, I’d been a bit worried about how we’d manage to keep an eye on him and manage to put up our tent. Getting it properly assembled took us about an hour and a half the first time we stayed in it a few years ago, but we’ve got this time down to about 10-15 minutes now. Nevertheless, assembling it all can sometimes be a stressful experience that helps to explain why camping is sometimes referred to as an ‘in tents experience’. Thankfully our son happily played with a spare tent pole as we put up the tent.

Our son was son making friends with a few other toddlers of a similar age as he wandered around the site. As he’s at the babbling rather than talking stage, watching these interactions can be quite fun. Sometimes he just stands and stares at his fellow toddlers. After getting to know a few fellow campers, he was soon enjoying an outside bath.

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After falling asleep in a sling by the campfire, he managed to sleep soundly back in the tent despite a thunderstorm and several flashes of lightning. In fact, this is more than can be said for mum and dad! He was also kind enough to allow us what now counts as a Saturday morning lie-in by not wanting to get up until 7.30am.

Some of the activities on the Saturday morning were re-arranged due to heavy rain, but this didn’t really affect our son as he decided to have a two hour nap. After this, he accompanied us to a room where we were able to try a range of slings. He particularly liked the fact that his was taking place in a room meant he could do one of his current favourite things: climb up some stairs. We are gradually trying to introduce him to some other fun activities that don’t involve staircases but are taking it step-by-step.

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Our son tries to do an impression of a doll.

The rain that had fallen on Friday and Saturday ended up bringing some positives as it provided plenty of puddles for our son to splash about in on a path through the woods on the edge of the camp. In fact, he decided to splash about using both his feet and hands. To cap it all, he decided to sit down in a few puddles as well. Thankfully, we’d decided to put him in a waterproof suit so we just stood there giggling away rather than trying to discourage him from having some messy fun.

Our son enjoyed chasing some bubbles around and then had a quick game of football before dinner. After dinner, he was even kind enough to help me with the washing up before dinner (see picture below). After this, he seemed too excited to sleep so we sat with him around the campfire again and got talking to some of the other families. After a little walk in the sling, he finally nodded off. Popping him in the sling is the way that I normally use to get him to go to sleep in the evening when my wife’s out and breastfeeding him to sleep isn’t an option. I always love seeing and feeling him gradually drift off to sleep.

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On Sunday morning, our son was again kind enough to let us stay in bed until 7.30am. We then had a cooked breakfast in the fantastic food tent before it was time for a group photograph of all the happy campers. After packing the tent up, there was more time for exploring the campsite and jumping in puddles before it was time to head back home to North Wales. The weekend had clearly been an exciting one for our son as he slept for almost all of the two hour journey home.

Have you been camping with your kids? What do you remember of going camping when you were a child? Please feel free to share your views in the comments section below or on the ‘Dad’s The Way I Like It’ pages on Facebook or Google+.

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