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Please Comfort Me With Tales Of Your First Camping Trip/Camping With Young Children

(15 Posts)
lou031205 Sun 03-Aug-08 22:19:45

Well, I went on my first camping trip on Friday with DH, DD1 (2.8) DD2 (11mo) and Alex (Westie!).


We pitched the tent. So far so good.

Then we went off to buy some airbeds. DH had accidently left a 12v plug in the lighter socket, thus flat car battery. Fellow campers had to help us bump the car.

The airbeds we bought stated "With built in air pump. It was getting late for the girls' bed. We got back to site, only to open the airbeds and see that the 'built in airpump' was mains powered! It specifically stated for camping. Which field do you see with electric sockets sticking up? (I know you can get electric hook-up but we didn't book it or have a lead).

While we were pitching the tent, DD chose to climb the most dangerous of the two climbing frames, climbing up the plastic slide backwards, and did so successfully three times. I tried to persuade her to climb the safer slide, but she wasn't having any of it. Attempt four saw her fall backwards off the slide (it had no hand holds or steps, it just attached to the frame) to the floor, about 4.5 feet. After many tears, I thought "that will put her off". No. About an hour later, I looked around to see her on the same slide, stood at the top, trying to take her trousers off!!! I felt sick.

The first night DD1 took until 23.30 to settle. Then DD2 woke at 3.15 - I think she was cold, so we took her into our bedroom, and she slept through from then until 06.30 when DD1 woke.

The second night was an unmitigated disaster. We tried to settle both girls at 7pm. DD1 was keeping DD2 awake, so after an hour, DH took DD1 for a walk while I got DD2 to sleep. Then DH brought DD1 back, and for the next 3 hours she cried, and screamed and would not settle. She asked for songs, so we sang (we had a couple with an 11mo old opposite, so desperately didn't want to be a nuisance). She asked for hugs, so we gave them. She went on to chant "ga hum", and I had no I idea what she meant. Finally I twigged that she was saying "Go Home", when I asked her, she said "Mimi Car" "Mimi Sat" (Millie Car, Millie Sad). There had been fireworks in a neighbouring area so maybe it freaked her.

So, at 23.00, I decided that as we were only 15 miles away from home, we should take her home. Partly because she was doing her best to tell us that she wanted to go home (I didn't even know she knew that we had a 'home') and partly because the poor couple opposite us were having their 11mo disturbed. They were very sweet, and told us not to leave on their account, but I just couldn't see it improving.

We put DDs in the car, and DD1 fell asleep within seconds. When we got home, she went straight to bed and said "Bye Bye, Mummy".

We went back to the site and packed up our beautiful new tent, feeling very demoralised!

So, if you have got this far. Please tell me:

- What age were your children when you started taking them camping?
- How many trips did it take them to get used to the idea?
- If you had been camped opposite us, would you have wanted us to leave?
- If you had been us, would you have left?

OhYouBadBadKitten Sun 03-Aug-08 22:35:24

dd was 2.5 we took her to france - eurocamp where she got a sickness bug and passed it on to dh. Also our car broke down and went to garage for several days -cost us a fortune. dd also was very scared of showers and screamed across the whole campsite so we washed her in a little plastic box.

We camp regularly now. Utterly don't mind kids crying screaming in the night, feel sorry for the parents. only thing that bothers us is kids crying v. early in the morning when their parents are desperatly trying to hush or ignore their kids cos they really really need sleep. Would much rather they just got up and got on with life so we can sleep, but at the same time i know how desperatly parents need slep and are trying to cope so understand.

I wouldnt have left but can see why you did.

Don't worry, that was one trip, it doesnt mean the next will be the same.

OhYouBadBadKitten Sun 03-Aug-08 22:39:12

Reading back - I hope that doesnt come across as unsympathetic as I do really feel for you - you did your best and honestly, camping will get better and I'm sure next time will be much easier - you sound lovely and if you were my camping neighbour I wouldnt have minded at all.

tigana Sun 03-Aug-08 22:45:54

ds was about 2 months old when he first came camping with us. That was easy.

Later trips have variously involved
ds projectile vomiting into dashboard of campervan while we were travelling at 70mph down french motorway at 11pm "fresh" from ferry journey
ds falling out of camper van door onto floor
ds's whole face swelling up frequently to look like he had gone several rounders with some pro-boxer or another ( before we realised he was allergic to dog saliva on his skin hmm)

Even as "seasoned" campers we have fogotten our euro adapter for hook up, no gas in cannister, no foreign currency etc.

Bah! Relax,go with the flow etc. I think you found it worse than it really was beacuse you were so worried about what the other campers were thinking/experiencing.

lou031205 Sun 03-Aug-08 22:55:10

Thank you for replies - I am normally quite a tough 'suck it up and get on with it' cookie when it comes to things I am doing, but I just thought if my 2 year old with her limited vocabulary, can manage to tell me that she wants to go home in the car and she is sad, and she has been crying for 4 hours, and it is disturbing others, then it is time to listen.

I would rather come home (although SO dissapointed) than give her an aversion to camping. We plan to try and go for regular weekends to get her used to it.

Tigana, your last sentence says it all. I hate being a nuisance.

tigana Sun 03-Aug-08 22:59:50

Will admit, DS usually falls asleep on our laps as we sit around the table outside and then sleeps right next to us, so can be dragged into bed with us at 3am if needs be.
Or a nice walk in the pushchair around bedtime... that works sometimes too.

beegee Sun 03-Aug-08 23:15:46

Do you know - camping is bloody hard...but, when you get into the swing of things it can be brilliant!

We've just returned from a camping trip - DD was fine (2yrs) - DS (4.5yrs) got chicken pox so we eventually toak him home so he could be more comfortable.

Aside fromn that my experience is as follows...I've been on a total of 4 camping trips with my two...

I think you have to let go of the routines of homelife and work with whatever the outdoor life is giving you. Our dcs generally go to bed when it starts to turn dark...we try not to clockwatch during camping. That helps a lot with the bedtime routine. We let them play outside in pyjamas till they can barely no longer stand up then they collapse like contented little sleeping bundles in their sleeping bags.

We sit and watch them usually drinking pimms or whatever.

I try and pitch as far away from the playground as possible. More peaceful and less need to regulate trips to it. The dcs find their own outside entertainment anyway.

We always take bikes/scooters.

We worry less generally.

We always take a potty for those needy quick trips to toilet that we just wont make.

It sounds like you've got two very young dcs...stick with it. They'll love camping in time and they'll love you for it!

Oh, and people really really don't care about noisy dcs during camping...there is no way I would have been worried about your noisy situation other than hoping you'd be feeling ok during it all.

beegee Sun 03-Aug-08 23:19:14

oh, and I probably would have taken my child home if they were asking for home like that. It was easy for you anyway, as you were so close.

As I say..with camping you just have to go with the flow and that's the joy of it.

mistypeaks Sun 03-Aug-08 23:28:56

We had our first attempt at camping with the dds about 3 weeks ago. dd1 (3) dd2 (2). There are things we took into account. dd2 had never slept in a bed, let alone a blow up bed, 2 inches away from her sister, in a tent, where it doesn't get dark until about 23.00. She kept asking us to turn out the lights!! First night after much playing together instead of going to sleep. dd1 gave up the ghost and turned herself in for the night. dd2 wailed the place down. dh bought her into our bed and then had to leave as no room for us all. So he slept with dd1. BUT he had no sleeping bag in there and a baby sized duvet is no use to a 6ft bloke. He also had to attempt to get his 6ft frame onto a 4ft blow up fifi bed!! Apparently he got so cold he lost his genitalia. dd2 however was soooo comfy she had her feet up on my legs herself out and was snoring within minutes.
2nd night was slightly better. For the rest of the week it was all fine. Getting them to go to bed in daylight rather than playing with each other was the biggest challenge I think.

DH would have gone home I think out of embarrasment and kindness to other campers. I was having none of it. To be honest we were in a 'seasoned' campers spot. i.e far from the comfort of the electric hook up points/toilet block, but really close to the coast/stunning views. So most of them were the stay one nighters. On the whole as well I find campers to be more understanding than your average holida maker. I think it is a more relaxed atmosphere. Don't worry about it too much and keep trying.
Actually thinking about it, the biggest challenge we really had was no cupboard locks. I kept finding dds with their heads in the food box munching on pringles and biscuits!!!

Troutpout Mon 04-Aug-08 14:47:38

Oh how horrible...sounds thoroughly miserable

Beegees right..i think you have to let those home routines drop a bit whilst camping.Just let them be with you untill they drop when they are little...this seems to be the way to go

Dd was 2 when i first went with her..with her brother.She was ok...but i did keep her up much later than normal (also because i have 2 early risers and i didn't want them to be up too early)

Dd(5) loves it. ds (11)has been going for longer and has only just begun to really like it and get excited about it (he kind of just tolerated it before)

Bless you..No i wouldn't have wanted you to leave. i would have utterly sympathised with you.

Would i have left? Maybe..depends on the reaction of the people around me and how wierd i was feeling about it all myself

fwiw..i think it takes time to get into the swing of camping... you all get used to the slower pace and sitting back a bit. I much prefer week camping to a few need to relax into it

Next time will be better! smile

rookiemater Mon 04-Aug-08 15:47:11

Lou I'm very glad to read your story.

We had our first camping expedition and it was I would have said until reading your Op an unmitigated disaster, but now I see it could have been worse.

It was raining when we arrived at which point we debated if we should go home. I only wish we had. We managed to get the tent innards pitched up then it started to bucket down so we threw the top bit over. Half an hour later when it stopped raining for a bit we discovered that the tent was absolutely sodden. I spent an hour scooping out water with saucepans, and then used a nappy to dry the place off ( a clean one I should say and very impressively absorbant)whilst DH put the rest of the tent up. Due to the not going wellness of the whole thing, DH was uncharacteristically snappy so DS retreated to the car where he sat in the warmth for a happy hour.

Got the tent pitched, then spent the rest of the time shouting manically at DS aged 2.5 as he trampled mud into it. At one embarassing point I was shouting " NO DON'T GO INTO THE TENT WITH YOU BOOTS ON, NO DON'T GO INTO YOUR ROOM, NO DON'T STAND ON YOUR SLEEPING BAG WITH YOUR BOOTS ON" only to hear the ladies from the next tent say oh that lady is really shouting at her baby. They had bundles of happy children and were cooking up a healthy vegetarian stir fry oh and probably were mumsnetters.

At bedtime DS had a tantrum for half an hour trying to pull the car door shouting "ME HOME DADDY CAR NOW" until he cried himself to sleep.
Oh then it turned out that as the campsite was linked to a summer fair,there were happy clappy campers singing and playing the guitar constantly until 5am, which is when I woke up.

Then it rained again.

We are committed to another 3 nights camping with DH family at the end of the month. We can't wait.

herladyship Mon 04-Aug-08 20:18:32

my favourite camping quote is from dd (then aged 4 - and a bit of a drama queen!) one wet and windy evening as we tried to settle her down for the night she burst into tears, and when asked what was wrong replied:

"i don't like camping... i like villas in spain"

cue hysterical laughter from the entire group that we were camping with! grin

she is 7 now, and loves this story! she has also grown to love camping and is looking forwards to a trip to newquay later in august.

my advice is camping is like activity with a young family, sometimes its heaven/sometimes it's hell! if i had been your neighbour, i would have felt very sympathetic (and probably offered you a glass of wine to ease the stress). i agree it is a good idea to try another weekend, as things may be totally different. maybe you could find a story about camping in a tent(or make one up) to help your dd get used to the idea of sleeping outside under a sheet of canvas?


Millimat Thu 07-Aug-08 20:46:47

This thread has had me in fits of laughter! Its so good to know that we are not alone. When ds (18 months) went for the first time a couple of weeks ago, he learned how to unzip hos sleeping bag, and the tent bedroom zip before popping out to say hiya! It was far too exciting for him to slepp, even though dd (4) was well away. He eventually went to bed with us at 11pm. But by the 2nd night he was exhausted and both children were fast asleep as normal by 7.30pm.
My ds has never been happier than that weekend under canvas grin

mrspnut Fri 08-Aug-08 22:30:07

I've just come back from 4 nights away with DD1 (11) and DD2 (2) at a campsite in Derbyshire and DD2 took to it like a duck to water.

I am a seasoned camper though and she is the sunniest toddler going but I just went with the flow, bedtime was whenever she fell asleep. I did go out for a drive 2 of the nights to get her off to sleep but the other 2 she fell asleep on someone's lap.

We were just on a field in a farm so no playground but all the kids on the site played together and a few balls were all they needed.

milkybarsrus Sat 09-Aug-08 13:35:21

Right, where do I start? I think that camping is really great fun, but includes quite a lot of work. I,e, toilet runs, getting water, taking kids for showers, waiting half an hour for a cuppa, cooking and washing up also can take forever etc. actually get to really see your kids playing, real playing, not the kind of t.v playing or bucket loads of toys playing, I mean the real macoy, making their own games up, playing on swings and slides, getting dirty, eating outside with their family and friends. Its just so differant in so many ways to the way we live our lives normally, and whats more they love it and will always remember those special camping holidays you took with them.
Camping is NOT about lounging around the pool and taking time out for yourself, unless you have no kids. so as soon as you realise that the more you'll enjoy it. Things do go wrong, (sick in tent) but just clean it up like at home. They do fall off and over things, rub it better. It rains at home as well as camping,but do the kids mind? No they don't. take a load of stuff next to your bed ready for the kids early waking in the morning to buy a few precious minutes while you come to. let them help you (my 2 year old helps) washing up, tidying tent, sweeping it out etc. Forget routines, they don't really work when camping do they? Get them off to sleep in the car if necessary, does it matter? NO! Do you look longingly at those couples sitting outside there tent with a glass of wine and a book? I used to, but now I enjoy that glass anytime of the day and don't wait for the evening (because the evening seems busier to me). Me and my husband take turns in having an hour or two with/without kids and it makes such a differance, just as it would at home. Things definately get easier as they get older (i have a 14 and 12 year old too), but they have grown up doing something that many of their freinds would love to try, and thats CAMPING! We always get other kids saying please can we come next time?
Don't take any notice of anyone else. Go for a drive or a walk if you can to help YOUR stress levels, not theirs!
p.s I have always found weekend camping trips harder than longer trips because you have to take the same gear for 1 night and 10, and when you have littlies they are just getting into it and its time to go home sad.

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