Camping is made for children – the chance to run free and explore the great outdoors, peer into rock pools, make sand castles and new friends under endless blue skies. But even the best laid plans can go awry when the heavens open. You may have packed the waterproofs and a couple of spare umbrellas, but that doesn’t solve the problem of what to do with energetic children confined in a small space.
Don’t despair! The stress of sulky teenagers and fractious toddlers can be avoided with a little forward planning. If you’re camping in the UK or out of season, choose a site that has a range of activities under cover. An indoor swimming pool is popular for all ages; a room with electronic games, TV and pool table will keep teenagers occupied, while younger children can join the Kids’ Club and have fun in the play area. A drying room and launderette will come in very handy.
Good old fashioned games
Away from the pressures of daily life, a rainy day can be a great chance for the family to spend quality time together. Blow the dust off the games compendium and have some nostalgic fun with Snakes & Ladders and Tiddlywinks. A pack of cards is extremely versatile with games for all ages – Snap, Go Fish, Rummy, Old Maid, Bridge, Solitaire…and if you feel you’ve exhausted all the options and have a steady hand, there’s always the house of cards! An A4 pad and a few pens goes a long way: Noughts and Crosses, Battleships, Hangman and Dots are old-fashioned favourites, while a set of felt-tip pens and a colouring book are very therapeutic (and not just for the kids!). A small bag of LEGO and a pot of Play Dough encourage imaginative play. Keep them engaged by changing activities frequently, ensuring they are age appropriate, and staying involved – Mum and Dad should not be playing with their phones!
Getting out and about
Of course, there’s no substitute for getting out in the fresh air, and in light rain donning the wellies and splashing about in the puddles can be great fun. Devise a treasure hunt for little ones, looking for snails, worms and flowers. Woodland is sheltered and ideal for creative photography, a bike ride or collecting twigs, pine cones, feathers etc. Why not make an artwork from them later? Small streams are an opportunity for launching paper boats, and if there’s a bridge don’t forget to play Poohsticks.
Camping Bingo is a new twist on an old favourite, and a great activity whatever the weather. Just print off the cards before you go and send the kids out to see how many they can spot:
Round off the day with a mug of hot chocolate and a bedtime story and you’ve got all the ingredients for a memorable holiday, whatever the weather.
Come rain or shine, choosing the right campsite will always ensure that you and your little ones have the best time away. Take a look at our recommended Sites for Children.