Last weekend was a big weekend for us – we went camping! With our friends! It was such a big deal because (A) HATES staying away from home overnight. To be honest, every holiday we have ever had (none of which have lasted more than 4 nights) since he was born, has been a nightmare with no exaggeration. In fact, pre-planned holidays have been cancelled, or rather “un-booked” due to (A)’s aversion to going away.
This time, however, I played it differently. Once our group decided that we were going to go on a camping trip together, I made the decision not to tell (A) anything about it. All the plans were made : 9 families, 2 nights away to a site in Fife (handily just less than an hours drive from home for me, so if the arse fell out the weekend, it wasn’t going to be too far to just jump in the car and head home). I had booked our spot for the one night only, just to see how it went, as did 2 others. The kids were talking about it but (A) never seemed to twig that he was going. The Thursday before we went, the subject came up again with his friend (P),who informed him that she was all packed and ready, he exclaimed that he couldn’t possibly go as he “was not prepared!!!” That evening I told (A) that the HomeEd Club were going camping for the weekend, Friday-Sunday and that I knew he didn’t like going away, so thought we could instead go up to the site on the Saturday and spend the day with his friends. He was all for this, and even suggested we take our tent with us too, just incase he wanted to stay, “I won’t, but just incase”.
Naturally, I was already ahead of him and all organised, tent and associated gear all sorted and packed. Friday night saw rain and extremely high winds, so I was quite happy to be snug in my own bed rather than under canvas, but the photos were starting to come through on Facebook on our our group page and (A) enjoyed seeing his friends playing in the woods and looking at their tents.
Saturday, we were up and ready and then the faffing about began. Instead of leaving at noon as planned, we left at 2.20pm after a quick run into the supermarket for a couple last minute essentials (wine, marshmallows etc). Once on the road all was fine. We had tunes blasting on the radio and we “sung” along .
“This is our road trip, (A)”,
“Yes, but once we get there, Mum, it’ll be our camping trip”.
When we arrived at the site the first thing to unpack was the flask of tea followed by a camping chair! (A) went off with one of our friends to join the others who were away for a walk in the woods – there was a stream running through with a tyre swing. Plenty time for a cuppa whilst (A) got dirty and soggy before getting our tent up. Thankfully the weather had calmed down from the previous night and the sun was shining, perfect conditions to get the tent up and ready ‘incase we decided to stay….’.
When (A) came back from his walk, dirty and soggy, and saw our tent and his bed, his first question was whether it was time for bed yet – was someone excited and considering the possibility of actually staying???
The next few hours went by like a dream: the kids had complete freedom in the field and orchard area, they were in and out of one another’s tents, some were helping prep the food for our big bbq, some were inventing their own games, they got their faces painted, tended to the campfire, got even more dirty, and ran off LOTS of energy, played swingball, frisbee, perfected the art of face-planting; each and everyone tripped on the guy ropes of a tent at least once! It was sooooo much fun, so relaxed and carefree. (A) came over just before dinner and asked again if it was bedtime yet.
There was a campervan in the pitch next to our which 2 kids were staying in with their dad. (A) made friends with them and they were then inseparable for the remainder of our trip – he was loving the campervan, especially the upper deck and his new pal loved our wee tent.
As we were having our dinner, (A) came over to me and said “I’ve made my decision. We’re staying tonight” and gave me a hug. YAS! This was huge! So we called home and told Hubby not to expect us home (unfortunately, the downside of Hubby working constant night shifts is that he misses most of the fun stuff we get up to, including this camping trip).
As the temperature dropped and the sun went down, it was of course time for for hot chocolate and mallows round the fire. (A) went to bed on 2 occasions and got back up both times. The other kids in our party were still up too. Night had properly fallen, all you could see in the field was the glow of campfires from the other campers, and the glow stick and bangles from our kids – they loved them! It was torches to go to the loo and the sky was perfectly clear; the stars were beautiful and plentiful. We saw the Big Dipper, Cassiopeia, Mars, a very bright moon, and either the International Space Station or an aeroplane (?), plus one of our friends brought her telescope too. Oh and it was also wine time for us old dears.
Once (A) decided to actually go to bed for real, he was 2 pages with Harry Potter and passed out. He slept right through, soundly until 8am. I was amazed. When he woke up, just as I was creeping back into the tent having already been up for a while, his first words were “I did it!”. I was so proud and clearly, so was he. Breakfast was eaten out by the fire area, and then (A) bugged out to his new friends van to see if they were up -they were and he had second breakfast with them (!)
It was lunch time when we all packed up and left, by which time our new pals had already left, but not before (A) and (K) swapped addresses so they could keep in touch. My happy little boy now a converted camper, wants to book to come back, but next time for 9 nights (no idea why 9 but that is how many he has requested) and with his dad too.
I have to say, that our first HE Club camping trip was a fantastic success for the club, but also for one 6 year old who overcame his fear and anxiety about staying away from home overnight. He learned and enjoyed the fun and adventures that can only be had when camping and holidaying with your friends.
We’re already organising our next club camp. First – we need a bigger tent!