This is a brief introduction to how camping helps and promotes family bonding. Not only the bonding between parent and child but the whole family including siblings, cousins, grandparents, aunts and uncles, and maybe even the family pet. The bonding process between family members is more focused when you are spending more time with each other in such close proximity and working together to get tasks and activities done.
People are forever changing and being able to get away together can sometimes be what is need to reconnect with each other again.
Living in today’s society where the working week is long and most parents needing to work to manage financially. Sometimes each parent working different shifts or hours and with the ever-increasing use of technology by family members of all ages, the time we spend together as a family is drastically decreasing. Even mealtimes are no longer a sacred part of our daily living as many families do not or cannot find this time to be together and share conversations about what has been happening in each of their lives. I feel that this is causing an ever-increasing disconnect between family members.
Camping has been a family tradition for some families going back a few generations while for others it is a newly found holiday treat. Some people are turning to camping holidays due to the increasing costs of holidaying abroad and the heightened targeting of airports and holiday destinations.
I myself have thoroughly enjoyed camping over the years both with and without family. I never camped as a child with my parents, which looking back is a real shame. I feel this is possibly due to my dad dying when I was 10 and my mum left on her own with 4 children, with me being the eldest and youngest just under a year. Dad enjoyed doing outdoor activities with us kids and feel this would have possibly have been something we would have done as a family had he not died.
However, as I have grown older and the next generation has come along, camping with the kids has become a regular thing. As I have continued to camp my brothers and sister also started to come along and now are keen campers themselves with ever-growing lists of equipment and knowledge. And, the best thing of all? The kids absolutely love it!
From the start of the holiday until the end there are always ways where you may be naturally bonding and areas where you as an adult can help encourage it further. If you chose to include the children in the decision of where you will camp and early discussions about the holiday not only will the kids feel included but this can also be a time of real family bonding? By allowing the kids to be part of the decision and planning process you allow them to feel included and you can get a real sense of who they are by the places they would like to go or the activities they would like for when they are away.
If your kids are older the bonding can start from the minute you start putting the tent up. All be it this can be one of the most stressful parts of camping if everyone mucks in it gets done quicker. If everyone has set tasks to get everything up and in place, it should run a little smoother so maybe discuss this before you go.
Even kids as young as 5-6 years can help at this point, a simple task of holding the tent pegs and following you or passing pieces of equipment means they get to do their bit. Older children can help by getting their beds/bedding out and put in place or maybe even go off and fetch the drinking and cooking water that you will need.
Even if it doesn’t go that smoothly it will have been done together as a family and everyone will have gained something from it.
During the trip whether you are doing activities together, cooking together, or simply sitting at night around the fire or in the main tent talking bonding is happening. You will each be getting to learn something new about each other, strengths and weaknesses, what’s been happening in life, at school, with friends, etc.
Again touching on the fact we live in a world full of technology simply getting kids out of their room and off their consoles or prising them away from their phones really helps them open up and be real. All too often these days’ kids are living in fantasy worlds while on their computers and even on their phones with such reputations to feel are rarely their true selves. Social media has really caused an increase in bullying, low self-esteem, or depression in our young children that a break away from it can be very refreshing for them even when they don’t realize it.
This is not only a problem with the children as many of us adults spend an increasing amount of time on our phones. Making calls, checking emails, playing games or being on social networking sites. We are often contactable 24/7 by others and this can often lead to a decreased time spend truly engaged with our kids. How many times have you asked your child/ren to wait a minute while you pick up a call? Had a half engaged conversation with them because you were checking something on your phone? The things is, many of us do it not realizing as we lead such busy lives.
The question is how does it make your children feel?
Especially the younger ones who are not just as engaged or reliant on this technology. We often get angry when we try to speak to them whilst they are on their computers or phones but do not realize we are just as guilty at times.
I remember reading a story from a teacher who had set her class (of 6-year-olds) a goal of drawing a picture of what they would like to be when they grow up. One of the pictures held back in was of a phone, she thought the child had held in the wrong drawing, but, when she asked the child about it he said that he wished that he was as important as his parent’s phones! The teacher was left in tears and on reading it my heart ached for him, a child who I don’t even know. Even to me who tries to consciously stay off the phone when with a child had a good rethink. In such a busy world do we truly and honestly give our children the undivided attention they not only need but deserve?
So maybe try to set a goal before you go camping that if you are somewhere with a signal that time on phones are limited for EVERYONE!
Playing games and doing activities as a family is not only good for bonding but great fun. Playing is not only good for the children but for us adults too. It allows us to de-stress and become carefree (even for a short period) allowing us to feel a truer sense of self. By having fun together it also let your child see another side of you. Some children only think of their parents as stressed, boring and busy. Teach them there is more to you than this, that you can be joyous and fun to spend time with.
Although many teenagers make out that it is uncool to spend time with parents they really do love it when it becomes full of fun and laughter. Not only do they enjoy it at the time but it will give them many good memories for years to come and the fact that you were there in these times allows you all the opportunity to take a trip down memory lane in years to come.
This leads on to how spending that dedicated time together while camping can also lead to future and further bonding for years to come. As a family, you will create memories for everyone and these will be relived and rehashed at many family get togethers in the future. Remember even when things go wrong on your camping trip, more often than not these moments will become something to laugh at in the future.
An example of this is when I took a group of younger kids away camping on my own. I was about 25 and took my 2 younger siblings and their friends away camping. We camped between a beach and a river, a very popular spot at that time for campers. On the first night, my younger sister woke me stating that she thought her friend had pee’d herself. As I put my hands out my own sleeping bag to sit up I soon realized we all floating in half a foot of water. The river banks had burst!!! So there was me at 3 am moving all kids and equipment and tent to a dry patch of land. We were tired and wet and I was the only adult. This was my worst experience camping ever! I could have cried at the time the trip was a disaster, but boy do we laugh about it now when we get together. Even their kids love listening to that story.
Any family holiday creates a chance for bonding and spending time together but I feel that camping especially magnifies the bonding process because it is such a team effort while camping. You are spending your time in such close proximity with each other compared to any other time. Realistically spending all your shared time in the equivalent of only having a 1 room house.
GO CAMPING, HAVE FUN, MAKE MEMORIES, BOND AND ABOVE ALL ENJOY QUALITY TIME TOGETHER.
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