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At what age do you let your children go off on the campsite.

(21 Posts)
MrsGokWantsalargeglassofwine Fri 28-Aug-09 13:28:40

I was surprised at the age of the children running around on their own back and forward to the play area, the toilet and showers and just generally running around. Especially surprised at the second campsite which has a great big lake in the middle of it.

At the first campsite we had a 2 year old come up to the empty caravan oppisite to us and was shouting for her mummy and was really distraught. We conforted her and went round the caravans and my husband called out 'has anyone lost a baby girl' (he is a teacher and his voice projects). In the end I went down to the reception with her and was sat waiting to talk to the owner as he was booking someone in. I was talking to the little girl for about 10 minutes trying to get some infomation out of her. There was then a kerfuffle up at the play area and someone started calling out and coming down the path. I called out to her and the little girl obviously recognised her. She had left her in the play area with 2 5 year old boys to look after.

Another timeI was at the play area and a 14 year old pinched a 4 year olds arm and had her screaming in agony. The girls with her max age 7 didn't know what to do, so I had to tell them to go to her parents and tell them what happened, so the lad could be spoken to.

Another time a group of 4/5/6 year olds were throwing sand in the sandpit. I asked them to stop because my little ones wanted to play there as well and it is dangerous to throw sand and someone would get hurt. Low and behold one got sand in his eyes. The boys were distraught and din't know what to do, so I suggested going back to the pitch and seeing their parents, but they didn't want to go on their own, so I had to gather my 3 up and walk across the campsite to their tent and explain to the parents what had happened. I was made to feel like I was an interfering busy body.

Is it normal to see children this young running about unsupervised? Am I being over protective of my 3 kids (7.5, nearly 4 & 2.2)? I let my eldest go to the toilet block on his own but that is it.

MollieO Fri 28-Aug-09 13:37:18

I would let my 5 yr old go to the play area on his own. First though I take him there and make sure that he knows how to get back to the tent. I also have a look at the ages of the children playing there. If some are clearly older then I stay but if not then I will leave ds to make friends.

I would also stay if I wasn't pitched within sight of the play area.

Last weekend we were in the Forest of Dean and the site had woodland and play area. I couldn't see ds in the woodland but I could certainly hear him "would someone tell my mum I'm stuck up a tree".grin

bigTillyMint Fri 28-Aug-09 13:40:02

Mine started going off on their own when DD was 6, then we let DS go off a bit when he was 5 1/2.

I guess it depends on the site - how big / how far to the playground / what the other children are like....

MrsBadger Fri 28-Aug-09 13:45:43

dd is 2 and ran around the site in our sightlines this summer

I did have a few instances at the playground where I was the only person over 11 present and had to sort out scuffles / howling 8yos / kids stuck on roof of climbing frame etc.

DH also routemarched a particularly objectionable 7yo and her brother back to their parents after they came banging on our tent and screaming at 10pm...

troutpout Fri 28-Aug-09 13:53:02

Depends on site for me
I have ds (12) and dd (6)
Ds obviously can just go off by himself
At some places i have only been comfortable if her brother is with her. (if she wants to play far from the pitch). At others...she's been fine to go off to the play area by herself if she's checked on regularly (say every 20 mins or so).She is more confident and savvy than ds was at this age though probably because she has had more freedom tbh. Any minor skirmishes probably wouldn't bother me at all tbh...and i think are probably good experience for her to cope without me too
<<Troutpout justifies slack parenting>> grin

JHKE Fri 28-Aug-09 14:01:30

Mine are 3 and 5. This year we were pitched very close to the playground, so we let them go and play and we sat in front of tent watching. There was times when my eldest wanted to go toilet which was next to playground and they wanted to go to friends tent and I said no they need to stay in sight. If we had been further away I would have stayed with them. Tbh I am not sure what age I would let them go on own.

Pixel Fri 28-Aug-09 14:59:09

Ds I can't let out of my sight at 9 yo but he is autistic and non-verbal so would be lost in no time. At one site we were very close to the enclosed play area so I let him go with his sister but there was soon trouble from horrible brats bullying him and he was pushed from the top of the slide, landing on his back (these were all under-12s - nice). So I guess the answer there is never.
DD is 13 now so obviously she has been allowed to go and play for a while now if she has made friends with other children, or wants to go to the showers/shop. We tend to stay on smallish sites anyway and there has only been one with a proper play area so she hasn't really been inclined to go too far from the tent. She did surprise me this year by being quite happy to go off through the woods in the pitch dark all by herself to the toilet block. She's usually the feeble sort!

TheEarthIsFlat Fri 28-Aug-09 15:22:10

Depends on the campsite. This year, at a very small, friendly campsite we let ds (nearly 7) and dd (nearly 4) go off to the playground on their own. We couldn't see them but could definitely hear them. Ds has been allowed to use campsite toilets on his own since last year, initially with us sneakily watching him and now so long as he tells us. He has proved he can be trusted. Have found they make friends quicker when big scary parents are hanging around spoiling things.

Having said that, if it was a big site, near a road or just didn't feel right, we'd go back to supervising them closely.

Lucycat Fri 28-Aug-09 18:46:38

Our two dds 9 and 6 go off quite happily but they know that they must stick together, dd1 has a watch and must check back every 30 mins or so - or use the walky talkies to let us know that they are ok. This is French campsites which tend to be more sedate.

30 mins is about as long as my 2 get without requiring food or a drink tbh grin

Slubberdegullion Fri 28-Aug-09 19:13:19

hmm very much depends on the site.

Mine are 4 & 5 and I have to say I really encourage the 'bugger off and find some friends' model. Having said that I like to keep them in earshot, so if screaming occurs then I can at least go and get them.

If we are staying on a site where there is a big field and the tents are pitched around the outside then I'm comfortable saying "just stay in the field". If the play area is yonks away from our tent then I am compelled to go with them, or send DH.

I think I might get some walkie talkies for next year.

littlemisschatalot Sat 29-Aug-09 07:50:10

like others say depends on the campsite.
we have a 4 and 5 yr old. we let them ride around the campsite within boundries, let them go to the play area alone, even if it is out of sight. dh or i will check every 15 mins to check they are where they said they would be,they are not allowed to go to anyone ellses tent/caravan unless we take them and check with families first. they go to the shop on their own to get milk etc.
we tend to choose smaller campsites with no bar or anything so they feel quite safe.
they have 2 main rules- stay together and go where you say u are going and no where else.
so far they have proved they can be trusted. they also go to the toilets alone.

anniebear Sat 29-Aug-09 08:01:59

well if you are over protective Mrs G, then we both are, mine were 7 last year when we went camping, I dont like them being out of my sight

you do what you think is best

MrsGokWantstogocampingagain Sat 29-Aug-09 09:32:13

I guess I am overprotective. Next year my eldest will be given more freedom to go to the play area but not the other two.

I still dread to think who could have taken that 2 year old. Anyone could walk on to the campsites we were at and both were small quiet ones.

gorionine Sat 29-Aug-09 09:44:26

It depends on the camping site and on the child IME. When we first went camping, DD1 was 3 1/2 and DS2 was 1 1/2 . DD1 was happily running arround but could not go on play ground because I could not see said playground from the tent.

We went again three years later with a 4 week old baby as well. the two eldest could go to the playground on their own as the camping was quite small and secure (everything visible+fenced) but neither of them wanted to go to the toilet without me or DH.

This summer DCs now 10, 8, 5, and just under 3 the 3 eldest all capable of going to the toilet/play ground on their own (I would not hav e left DS2 go to the camping toilet at 5 on his own but DS3 seems more "streetwise" than his brother was). DD4 always glued to me or DH so not an issue yet.

motherducky Sat 29-Aug-09 10:49:53

So far we have only let DD1 who is just 6 go off to the toilet by herself a few times or with friends, generally they are just directed to play in the field (not in and out of other's tents). We haven't stayed on a site with a play area yet but we would just go with what feels right. I think a lot depends on the other children around and how close the road is.

Oblomov Sun 30-Aug-09 08:02:33

Just got back from 2 weeks caravaning. Never caravaned before. Let my 5.7 year old run back and forth to play area and toilet block.
My sil came to visit and seemed horrified by this. But then in her nature she is different to me and doesn't let her children(5.6 & 3) out of her sight.
So, I guess, camping is the same as how you would act at home. Do you let your children out where you can't see them ?
Same old. Same old.
How I long for the days of summer holidays , off riding your bike, only coming home for dinner. That will never happen again, I don't think.

troutpout Sun 30-Aug-09 10:27:29

I can't let my kids (when little)out on their own at home. We right in the town centre and our house is on a really busy road.
Camping is one of the few practices they get actually (apart from friends or parents/pils streets)
I'm not sure ds wouldn't have been so confident about walking to school by himself and going on long school trips if it hadn't been for camping and he hadn't had the experience of looking after himself (showers and whatnot). He has special needs and finds a lot of these things really's something we have to push with him constantly.

MollieO Sun 30-Aug-09 11:06:45

I think you have to go with your gut instinct. We've been camping twice so far this summer. First time I didn't let ds out of my sight. There was no play area and the campsite was near a road. Wasn't worried about ds getting out to the road as the gate was too heavy for him to open. I was worried about someone coming into the site and taking him. We went through stranger danger issues every day to remind him what he should do if anything untoward did happen.

The second campsite was very different. Key entry system to get in and out of the site, big playarea and it just felt more secure. A lot more children as well compared to the first site. Also helped that there were other MNetters there so the children tended to stay together.

We are going away next week to a very child friendly place so hopefully that will be similar to the second site we stayed at.

TheDMshouldbeRivened Sun 30-Aug-09 11:20:33

mine disappeared off from about 4 but it was an HE camp so peple all knew each other vaguely.
Its more scary now they are teenagers and not back in the tent at 1am and when you call their mobile it rings next to you!

anniebear Sun 30-Aug-09 12:25:53

Mrs G, nothing really overprotective about trying your best to keep your young children safe

MrsGokWantstogocampingagain Sun 30-Aug-09 18:22:25

Thanks Anniebear.

I was so conscious of them disturbing other campers all the time and them not making a nuicense of themselves.

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