A few weeks ago, we went camping with a big group of friends to a local campsite. There was unexpected sunshine, a near constant fire, a huge gang of semi-feral children, group cooking and late nights around the fire. After day one I knew that I wouldn't want to come home. There were 8 families in total, but we also had visitors most days- friends who were nearby and popped in to sit with us by the fire and share food. I took a ton of photo's of the trip which I've shared below- in all their messy wonderful glory. Below I've shared our tent and set up, then how we organised it in case you want to plan your own trip.
Our set up.
We have a 5 meter Bell Tent with a zipped in ground sheet from Soul Pad, which we bought 5 years ago. We love our tent! It is huge and pretty and warm in the winter and cool in the summer. We also have a sleeping compartment inside also from Soulpad which we recommend for keeping warm at night. We recently bought an awning from Camping and Canvas. This is where we have our little stove set up. I just checked and it is currently half price in their sale. Our next purchase is a stove! We currently sleep on two double air beds and we bring proper bedding to be cozy. I also bring some plain large shoppers which fold down and serve as places to keep our clothes in which keep the tent tidy. In the living 'half' of the tent, we have a folding camping table and collapsible shelves which make keeping things tidy so much easier. I like to bring rugs, bunting and fairy lights, and I also love the parafin lamps you can see in the pics. We do not pack light!
How we organised a big group camping trip.
I shared a lot of our trip on Instagram Stories and had so many responses from my followers exclaiming how lovely it looked and also asking how we organised it, so here you go!
1) We started a Facebook thread to organise it. My friend Jo actually phoned and reserved the space (everyone needs a Jo in their lives!) then we used the Facebook group to sort money, plan food, firewood and activities for the kids.
2) I sent my camping packing list to everyone which meant no-one forgot anything essential. It's from my summer living E-Book, Stitch + Forage. It's no longer for sale now that the season has finished so email me if you want me to send you a copy.
3) We camped locally. We didn't want to waste precious holiday time in the car. We went to Nethergong, which is a beautiful, large campsite in Kent. We were given a large space for our group in a wooded area, so we had plenty of space to spread out. The kids were so so happy just playing in the trees, hammocks and in each others tents.
4) We barely left the camp! Because we already know and love the local area, none of us felt the need to adventure. No haranguing kids into cars, long journeys or spending lots of money. We simply enjoyed living outside together, and spent most of the time eating, thinking about what to eat, or cooking. Ha.
5) We planned meals. There are a number of vegans in the group and we decided we wanted to try to eat nourishing food so we planned our meals in advance. We brought food cooked at home for the first night. One family made a vegan chilli, another made a meat chilli, another made a desert. It meant an easy, healthy, delicious dinner was ready for us after the work of setting up camp.
6) Most of us brought out own camping stoves. Although we cooked communally, we each had access to a small gas stove. This meant we had the flexibility to cook up something quick for our kids if they needed it, and also were able to make our own hot drinks.
7) For the remaining meals, we planned Jacket potatoes for one night, a huge salad for another, a barbecue for another. We each brought different ingredients to make this happen. Nethergong has a visiting Pizza van which we ordered from in advance. The pizza was delicious and they catered for the vegans too. The site also run their own vegetable box delivery scheme so we ordered a box of veg for one night and my super talented friend Rosa turned it into a huge Minestrone soup. It's worth looking what campsites have on offer before you arrive and ordering in advance, especially if you're in a big group. I left the holiday having eaten better than I normally do at home!
8) We coordinated booze. My Brother in Law runs Boutilliers Brewery, so we split the cost of a keg for everyone. You don't have to know someone who owns a brewery to do this though! We also planned Pimms, and shared the cost of few bottles and boxes of wine.
9) We brought some kids activities. They were totally happy just playing in and around the camp. But we planned a disco (My friend Emma brought a little speaker and had prepared a playlist of their favourite songs!) and we brought face paint and face glitter for everyone. There were 2 hammocks which provided hours of fun. At various points, there was also Camping Bingo, a lot of drawing, and treasure hunts too.
10) We took turns with the kids. Some of the time they were happy by themselves, some of the time they played with a few of the adults at a time. I wasn't able to pull my weight quite so much with Auden with me, but we generally all took turns going on 'bear hunts' with the kids, reading them stories, playing in the hammocks, doing face paint and face glitter, taking them to the shop, the rope swing or the pond.
We forgot stuff, there were meltdowns, cold germs, crying babes, early mornings and cold nights. But despite those things, I think I spent much of the time grinning in a slightly mad way; I felt so at home living in this way, even just for 5 days, outside all day and into the night.
Any questions, please post below. :)
Feeling the change of season...
I wanted to post this before Autumn really makes herself heard. She's building beautifully in these parts with emerging rainbow colours and dropping temperatures. We are so excited about the change of season! For both Dave and I, this month has signalled a new wave of creative energy, of tying up loose ends and fresh starts. We are adjusting to a whole new family rhythm as Frankie-Rose settles in to a new school so everything is feeling a little raw and exciting and new and we are drinking it all up. I hope this changing month is an exciting one for you too.