“Shall we go out and look at the Moon?“- I heard as a gorgeous 7 year old little girl led my Little Man (turning 4 in a month) out into the dark school playground after they had spent the last hour or so dancing together.
It was the annual school BBQ and camping at Little Miss’ school. We arrived in glorious sunshine mid afternoon to set up tent in the playing fields. Dadonthebrink had done test run at home the day before with our old tent which hadn’t been used for the last 5 years (almost to the day). All the bits were there, the elastic holding some of the poles together had gone, but it was still straightforward to put it together.
Our tent is a 4 person double domed tent which we bought about 8 years ago when we were camping in France and realised that our small 2 person tent was just way too small in temperatures over 35C (over 25C even at night). It’s served it’s low price well since, on one trip to the Brecon Beacons sleeping 5 adults and our dog, standing up to a fairly substantial thunderstorm too… ahhh, lots of fond memories.
This time, as we were camping with Mini Man who is 12 weeks old, we decided to add another “room” by putting up a pop up festival tent in the front compartment and let Little Miss and Little Man sleep there. In there they had their Ready Beds on some polyfoam mats and their sleeping bags (picked up from Asda last year- great for travelling, easy to wash, dries quickly) to keep them warm.
As it was just an overnight stay we didn’t bother with much gear: we had polyfoam mattresses on top of which we had an old -style thick sleeping bag and then used our pillows and duvets from home. Mini Man had his Phil & Teds carry cot (which he’s almost too big for now), he wore a vest, a sleep suite, a thin hat and a snowsuite with hood over.
Having created our shelter for the night, we joined the other 15 or so families also opting to camp. The adults chatted, got ready for the early evening BBQ , while the kids all had a ball running around, playing in their own school playground, but with slightly laxed rules.
Slowly the non-campers also arrived for the BBQ, some opting to help (always the same faces), some just there for a good time, one or two having the audacity to criticise the hard work of the organisers, who do this in their own spare time for the good of the community and the school. All in all it was a lovely evening.
There was a disco in the hall, but as it was such great weather most of the children decided to play outside. As it got dark (from about 8.30pm) the non-campers gradually drifted off home to their warm beds, the children wandered in and out between the disco and the playgrounds. We were locked in, so there was nowhere really for them to get lost. The older ones looked after the little ones, sibling or not. The parents juggling parental duties and a good chinwag.
Mini Man was asleep by 8pm in his pushchair. Little Man came to us to say he was tired about 9.30, changed into thermals and a fleecy pair of PJs he was asleep the moment his head hit the pillow. Little Miss, a real party girl, we had to rope in at 10pm as one of the last children standing. Reluctantly, she went to bed, but also fell asleep almost instantly. Mini Man woke 11, which was great for a feed and a change, then he and I went to bed. Dadonthebrink stayed up with the other parents chatting away till who knows when. (This set up was great, as no one needed baby sitters, kids were safe, within earshot, but parents could also let their hair down.)
Next morning was a slow start, people wandering around in their PJs, enjoying a communal breakfast, with the BBQ lit up again to consume some more sausages and burgers. Mini Man only woke at 7.30, by which time I was awake and had had my first cuppa.
The kids played and played, inventing the “Biscuit Club”, their excuse to crack open a tin of biscuits and consume it’s contents. They truly enjoyed this chance to play with their schoolmates.
It was past 11 by the time we were packed and ready to go. We said our goodbyes: “see you tomorrow on the school run.” … but of course that will be different. We’ll all be rushing.
The camping and the BBQ was such a great event: it gave us a chance not only to have our first night as a family of five camping (it was both Little Man’s and Mini Man’s first night in a tent away from home), but also a great opportunity to get to know other parents better and forge friendships. Having had such an enjoyable time I find it very strange why less than 10% of the families from the school decided to join the camping. Is it the camping? Surely one night a year under canvas is bearable for anyone!… This is the sort of stuff happy childhood memories are made of!
The school is loved by most attending, so why do you think so few families end up participating in such events?