Wild camping….with three little people….I think Dadda might have thought I was a bit daft, but he agreed we should try so we did! Here in Sweden, we have this fantastic thing called “allemansrätten”: this is the right of public access to roam freely almost anywhere in the countryside. There are a few responsibilities that come with this; you take care of nature and wildlife, respect landowners and others enjoying the countryside, respect the land and leave no trace you have been there, don’t disturb and don’t destroy.
I had really wanted to get the children away for wild camping, and with the summer now slipping away from us fast, we felt it was now or never for this year. I had taken them away for 2 nights on my own somewhere over the summer holidays, but it was on a campsite. It suited our needs well, especially as I was on my own with them, but it was noisy, cramped, and expensive!! I wanted a closer experience to nature for them, and a more basic, less commercialised one as well. Where else can you play in trees and swim in freezing sea, all before breakfast?!
I have written a lot in the past about the benefits of the great outdoors and nature play. You can take a peek at the following posts to go into those in more depth;
There were a lot of those reasons involved in our decision to get our children out for a night of wild camping. Being outdoors and in nature, supports all forms of development, there is more adventure to be had, there are more challenges (and mine up the ante with these by competing, for example who can climb the highest in the tree), and there is more creativity at work. They love to explore and there is much more to explore in the outdoors, teaching them to adapt to their environment and take risks. It increases their teamwork as well as their confidence, both very evident in how they helped and persuaded each other during little excursions into the woods during both the daylight and the dark, while we cooked and cleared away. They taught each other little things too. However, our decision to take them wild camping was not just about the children. It is also about looking after nature and there are benefits to us grown ups too. Our children will not grow up wanting to protect, respect, and look after nature unless they have experienced it, spent a lot of time immersed in it, and been allowed to enjoy it. This will increase their desire to conserve it. Also, while I will be the first to raise my hand and say any camping is hard work for the grown ups, before you even make it wild, we too benefit from being outdoors and in nature. We are getting our fresh air and vitamin D and N, our moods are better (although I have to say the weather does have the potential to alter this!), and our blood pressure should 😉 be lower!
We headed off on our wild camping trip to a place west of us called Gö. It’s a delightful little peninsula, and whilst here in Sweden you don’t have to go far from any car park to be in the middle of nature and away from people. Plus it was really accessible for us with three small children, and I knew it would be relatively easy to pitch our tent. We were on our own surrounded by beautiful nature, and it was very peaceful too. The children learnt a lot of new things as well on this trip. They helped with the tent pitching, the fire building and lighting, how to toilet, cooking, we star gazed which initiated a whole torrent of questions, and during the night a lost young deer could be heard calling for its mother. They learnt a lot about looking after themselves, from the importance of insect repellent, to getting over the confusion about sleeping in their clothes, and how to not traipse all the sand and dirt into the sleeping areas. We watched the sun set, before we laid on our backs and watched the stars come out. Then in the morning, we had a very freezing dip in the sea after they had been climbing trees!
So, after returning very tired (between them, their sleep talking was constant!), very smelly, and needing a decent loo, are we pleased we did this mini adventure? Too right we are. It was a break from the norm for everyone, and for that reason it has provided everyone with a very memorable experience. The children loved the increased freedom (although they enjoy quite a lot of freedom here in Sweden anyway, they were allowed to wonder into the woods and explore the cove on their own….we could hear them before you panic!). It was back to basics, with no distractions, bonding time together as a family and as siblings, and lots of fun had with nature play. I would definitely recommend this to any family (but as we did, go for the easier option of a dry period!!). Good luck and I really hope you’ll step out of your comfort zone (as we did) and give it a go. You’ll be seriously pooped but left wanting to do it again…..maybe in another year 🙂