Camping in the Forest recently conducted a survey and found that 48% of parents said they miss the lack of responsibility which came with being a child and 37% of parents worry their children are too wrapped up in technology. So we spent the weekend with them at their Holmsley site the New Forest camping and unleashing our inner child.
The research that went alongside the ‘Unleash Your Inner Child’ campaign that Camping in the Forest are running found that most parents would go back to be 8 years old again. Now I’m not sure I would go back to being 8, though it was a pretty carefree time for me. I rather liked it when I was a bit older, still carefree but with a bit more freedom from my parents.
I used to camp with my family when I was young and have such great memories of it. Even though I’m pretty certain there wasn’t a single trip my entire family made it through, my mum and sister usually ended up going home to sleep! I loved it though, our family dog Daisy would worm into my sleeping bag with me, we would walk a lot, eat dubious camping stove meals and rise and sleep with the sun and spend all day outside. Things that I wish I could do more of now I’m an adult but somehow get by passed with day to day life.
I hadn’t been camping since I went to Reading Festival as a teen though. Husb hadn’t really camped at all, a few Scout trips and the odd night under canvas in the back garden maybe. For L it was a brand new and shiny experience. He was so excited!
I can’t tell you how much I wanted this weekend to work out, as I would love to go camping more often. Thankfully it did, we all had a great time and L slept until 7.30 am, a practically unheard of time.
The weekend was about so much more than us having a little holiday. We were part of a group of ten families. Five of us were bloggers, all ready for a bit of a tech break and some good, old fashioned, family time. The other five families were there as their children had won the chance to be a New Forest Park Ranger for the day. There was a mix of seasoned campers and novices. A love of the outdoors and nature was something we all shared.
Our weekend was all about the kids and us joining in with them. With some help from the Camping in the Forest Team, the lovely Park Rangers and the one and only Chris Packham we started our adventures.
We got up close and personal with the New Forest Ponies. We learnt about the habitat and how there came to be some many ponies, cows and pigs. We explored the woodland, making our own National Parks and finding beetles and insects. Some time was spent thinking about how we impact the environment around us and how we can help protect it. Chris Packham was on hand to answer everyone’s questions about the bugs they were finding and sharing his incredible knowledge with us all.
I don’t think a single one of us returned to the camp without grubby knees and fair few of us had been caught out by the sun that had appeared.
Then it was time for a fun family competition as set by Chris Packham. Our general knowledge was tested. Colouring skills inspected. There was a chance for bark rubbing, making a fairy house, crafting a crown from the twigs, leaves and grasses around us and of course a challenge to find as many interesting creatures as we could whilst also looking for their homes.
Team Stebbs did not win, but L did find a spider that he very proudly showed Chris, who kindly informed us despite its spidery appearance, it was in fact a harvestman. It was a lot of fun and everyone got involved.
In between all these great activities it was nice to watch the kids doing what kids do best. Climbing trees. Making friends. Footballs and bubbles were out. L was having a great time on his scooter and playing with what that morning we thought was the most inappropriate toy he have possibly chosen to travel with, a giant Little Tikes Car transporter and cars set, but actually turned out to be the perfect sturdy outdoor toy.
With the parents popping in and out of the play as needed, or actually relaxing and just enjoying talking to each other and watching the children play. I think it was the first proper conversation husb and I had hed in months! Not just discussing how the day had gone and the plans for the rest of the week before one of us went off to work/sleep/deal with the child/housework.
It was so lovely and it really made me realise just how perfect camping is for getting back to those things we really enjoy. Having fun and being outdoors. No phones or other distractions, just really good family time.
The following day we explored the New Forest by bike and got to see even more of it. Push bike is the perfect way to explore, with great trails that are quiet, well marked and so gorgeous. Even if at some points the hills proved too much for me and I had to walk!
I loved the campsite at Holmsley, in amongst the woodland and left pretty much unaltered. It wasn’t formal like so many sites can be and that meant it was a happier place for all the wildlife too. Camping in the Forest have 16 sites spread through the New Forest, Forest of Dean, Wiltshire, Wales and Scotland. We’ll certainly be checking some more out. The facilities were good, with plenty of toilet blocks, recycling points and even a playground.
That one night away last weekend felt like an actual holiday and I think it was the fact we had no distractions and actually slowed down for a bit that helped. L had just the best time ever. He loved sleeping in the tent and getting to be outdoors all the time. Getting to enjoy a bit of digging and exploring and being mucky is his idea of heaven.
If you fancy getting back to nature and camping I’ve got a three night break for one lucky winner with Camping in the Forest to giveaway. Just head over to this competition link. (Running 01/07/2017 – 31/07/2017).
Disclosure – we were guests of Camping in the Forest for the weekend so we could help share our love of nature and get more people to Unleash their Inner Child.