Back To School We Go

I know there will be tonnes of back to school posts doing their rounds this week, and one kid in a school uniform looks pretty much the same as the next after a while. I saw too many of them on Facebook yesterday, and I promised my two that although I took a quick snap, it was not going to be posted on the big blue photo album in the sky.

The summer holidays have gone in a flash….when the boys were younger I used to wonder how I could entertain them for six weeks, but this year as Boy2 prepared to start comprehensive school and Boy1 his final school year, their independence took on a new dimension.

Boy1 has become much more confident on a mountain bike for a start, and since riding more trails with his dad, has ventured out to ride the new local Cognation trails alone. It’s a bit scary, letting your 15 year old go riding up a mountain on his own. However, there are lots of others out riding and I ask him to call me on his mobile once he reaches the top!

Boy2 has just moved up a size and is starting to enjoy the Rookie trails….and me, although I enjoy biking, I’m a bit of a scardy cat when it comes to the real off-road stuff. I may get left behind soon if I don’t get my act together.

We’ve done much more walking together as a family this summer and started to discover the Brechfa forest along with our favourite pub/restaurant, The Halfay Inn in Natgaredig which is conveniently close to Brechfa. And the wet suits were also dusted off for the usual surfing at Aberavon beach…..

Surfing at Aberafan
Surfing at Aberafan

Music has featured highly this summer, with Boy 1 forming a band and Boy 2 starting drums lessons. We’ve also rediscovered vinyl and Dad’s old record collection, which (since they love 70’s rock) is really cool 😉

Boy 1 plays guitar and drums, but unfortunately for us, he’s a drummer in this band …. and, as we have the drums at our house …. I’ll leave it to your imagination.

All in all, we’ve had a lovely summer holiday, had a great week at Center Parcs and I’ve managed to keep up to date with work (always a bonus). In fact, I am quite sad at the empty house this morning ….. and shall look forward to the next holiday. When is half term?

Free Family Camping Fun – Guest Post by Hazel from YellowFields Camping

Hazel is a camping addicted, mum of two, who insists on a campfire!  Her blog,  YellowFields Camping, is all about camping on the wilder side with full reviews of campfire campsites with lots of pictures.  Also, fun ideas for children plus loads of camping related posts. YellowFields Camping is all about campfires, ropeswings and streams – not clubhouses and hard standing!
Follow her on twitter @yellowfieldsh
Or on facebook YellowFields Camping

Free Family Camping Fun!

Children of all ages love camping, however,when their natural curiosity and energy for exploration has finally expired they can get bored. So here are a few ideas to help them keep busy on a camping trip without having to put your hand in your pocket or bring loads of extra equipment!

The Obstacle Course

Get them to gather a variety of objects from around the camp to create a course. This may involve dribbling a ball in between some shoes, throwing a tennis ball into a bucket, hopping to a marker and back, walking along some strategically places lengths of wood. Use whatever can be found and your imagination. A few silly things make it even better!

Everyone takes turns at racing around the course, use a stopwatch (many mobile phones have one) to time everyone. It is most fun if adults join in too!

Of course it’s unlikely the youngest of the family will be able to win so instead set them a target of beating their own Personal Best!

Ground Art

Gather some natural bits from around the campsite or go on a little walk. Pine cones, daisies, handfuls of grass, sticks, anything you fancy.

Help your children decide what shape or picture they might like to make on the ground. It might be a specific picture like a butterfly or just a pattern. Let the creative juices flow!

This can of course equally be done on a beach with shells, stones and seaweed.

Ground Art
Ground Art

 

Make a Mini Den

There may not be enough materials around to make a full size den, but it’s easy to make a mini den or fairy house from what’s nearby. We have made many different sorts, perhaps among the gnarly roots of a tree, against an old stump or free standing teepee style. The opportunity for invention is extensive. We have even tied long grass together at the top to make a hollow. They can be furnished with leaves, grass and nut shells. Occasionally the fairies visit and leave a few pennies of rent for the pleasure of staying in a great mini den, so it’s always worth getting your child to check in the morning!

Make a Mini Den
Make a Mini Den

 

Trail Making

Depending on age you may need to help your child hide a ‘treasure’ and then make a trail. Older children will relish making one themselves.

Simply hide a treasure which could be anything from a note saying ‘ I love you’ to a bottle of beer! Then make a trail using sticks to create arrows on the floor. The longer the better, the trail should go all around the houses (or campsite) before leading back to the treasure right next to the tent!

Scavenger Hunt or Bingo

Write a list of items to be collected, or found and ticked off, around the campsite or on a walk. Never fails to get kids excited especially if there is some kind of prize available for being the first back!

Make a Mini Raft

If you are lucky to have a stream on the campsite and the kids have finally exhausted dam building, stone collecting and general splashing around you might suggest building a mini raft. They can collect a few sticks, use about 6 thumb width sticks plus two as cross braces. Tie together with string as well as you can and “ta da” a mini raft is born! Top tip: Attach a length of string to the raft as a lead if there is any danger of it sailing off too far!

Make a Mini Raft
Make a Mini Raft

 

So much can be done with the fairly limited materials, once the children have been shown the possibilities their imaginations will take them even further!

Thank you Hazel, for such an inspiring post. Please leave any comments or your own ideas for ” free family camping fun” in the comments section below.