Everyone benefits from some time near the earth, it literally recharges and restores, leaving you with that wonderful sense of wellbeing. Listening to the sounds of the nocturnal animals and birds is exciting, as is waking to the sun coming up and birds singing. In fact, after a few nights under canvas in the garden, it can feel rather odd to be confined within four walls again!
1. Set up your tent in the daytime and get it all cosy inside. Adventurous campers might like to have a go at building their own shelter – CBBC offers a printable sheet on how to do it here.
2. Make it an outdoor day, rather than just going out to the tent when it gets late. Play outdoor games like catch and tag, until everyone has had a really good run around and the potential of them actually falling asleep is much higher!
3. Have a fire. Camping in your garden allows you to have a campfire if you’d like one. We have a metal fire pit in our garden, but you can make a fire pit fairly easily by digging a round pit in your garden and surrounding it with bricks (don’t use flint as these can explode). I read somewhere about someone repurposing an old washing machine drum as a fire pit! Be especially careful where you locate your firepit – e.g. away from overhanging branches and buildings, and on level ground.
4. Toast marshmallows. No campfire would be the same without marshmallows to toast! Spike them on BBQ skewers and poke in the fire to melt and toast a little before feasting.
5. Bake potatoes and corn on the cob in the fire. Wrap in tin foil and place in the embers to cook. There’s nothing quite like food straight off the fire and smelling smoky and delicious to whet the appetite.
6. Make a tripod to cook over the fire on. I was excited to discover this Youtube video on how to make a simple and effective greenwood cooking tripod. And for those who’d prefer a metal structure, there’s information on how to make one here. Prepare an easy curry or ratatouille to have with your baked potatoes, or simple baked beans become pretty special cooked over a fire.
7. Tell stories. Gazing into the flames and gathering together naturally brings out our ancestral instincts. Why not spin a few yarns as you watch the flickering fire – you might like to check out folk tales at the library and see if you can create your own in the same style. Or perhaps your teens prefer ghost stories in the dark!
8. Borrow a star-gazing book from the library. Whilst you’re checking out folk tales, see if the library has any astronomy books. Lying on your back under the stars and naming them as they come out one by one is a magical way to enjoy the dark night sky.
9. Make banana splits. Wrap bananas in foil and put them in the embers for a tasty, nutritious campfire treat.
10. Sing campfire songs. My nieces recently taught me some fun campfire songs that they’d learnt at a Superweeks camp and it reminded me how lovely it is to sing in a round. Check out these simple campfire songs – if you’ve got a guitar or some percussion instruments all the better.