Camping. It's June. Summer? I wouldn't call it that. Well I didn't on Saturday when the rain came down. Rain? No that wasn't normal rain. Perhaps it was special Derbyshire rain (we were near Buxton after all) but our old trailer tent leaked. Not just a bit but lots. Not just in the awning either - we could have managed with that - nope right down the middle of the sleeping compartment, the poor dog would have been soaked. Nobody would have slept. Luckily it was still the afternoon.
Of course at the same point the leaks started the children and dog decided to be as silly as possible (must have been something in the water!) just to raise the stress levels to breaking point. Thankfully a moment of clarity allowed me the idea to cut up the ground sheet (with my Swiss Army knife!!!) and fix it inside effectively creating my concept 'dynamic' guttering system. It wasn't great but it worked. We stayed. A good time was had by all. The trailer tent was put away wet and will by going to the tip very soon (unless you want it?).
So what's in this post?
I'm sharing a super recipe from last weekend: some Great British Classics - torrential rain and leaking tents; some Primal Favourites - barefoot antics and plenty of outdoor freedom; and for the adults chuck in some - Cortisol (kids+rain+leaking tent!) and a good splash of cider; mix it all up and what have you got? A great experience for one and all. Yes it was. Really it was. No I am not trying to convince myself.
Oh yes, I'll pull this all together to show you why I think more free-play outdoors, ideally barefoot, could do your children (and you if you'd only try!) the world of good.
.....It did stop raining. The children played. And the adults drank - we needed it.
Is camping really like childbirth?
There's something about camping you either get it or you don't.....I think it's a bit like childbirth (hopefully Joanne is not sat beside me when she reads this).....both experiences usually result in someone saying 'Never again', only to forget the pain, eventually look back on the experience with fondness and do the same thing all over.
- That's actually the look on my face when I realise I have to put the tent up again
I have to enlighten you some more as to the condition of our dear Raclet trailer tent. It's over 25 years old, we 'won' it on eBay about 3 years ago and actually really enjoyed a couple of two week holidays in the thing (we were very fortunate with the weather on both occasions). However, I swore last time we took the trailer tent out I was never using it again. Whilst taking this behemoth down last year, alone, in wind and rain, I nearly took off whilst holding on to the damn thing. Poles and limbs bent. It was a mess. I very rarely lose it but I did that day.
- Happier (albeit dryer) days in the trailer tent (Etta is still in the oven!)
But then, friends you haven't seen in a while suggest you meet up - 'Great idea! Lets meet halfway and camp.....' and well last weekend happened. We didn't even manage to become inebriated. How times have changed.
- 'Log Corner' according to the kids. Evidence of self-medication for us.
Making Memories to last a Lifetime.....
The children had a great time though. There is something about the space, the air or the proximity to nature that just brings them alive. They also tend to socialised more - making friends (and don't want to go home!). They play all day. Imaginations become supercharged (like 'log corner' above!). We tend to give them a 'longer leash', this freedom teaches them so much. Super happy children. Indeed making memories that might last a lifetime.....you never know.
- Their energy never seemed to abate until sundown
I don't think it's a coincidence that children experience all these benefits when we step away from 'modern' living. I think the free-play, space, time outdoors, the sunlight (vitamin D!!!!!), being closer to nature, the smell and removing the distractions of modern life all tap into something - something more primitive or at least a more natural state. And since you're listening to my babble, I'd say that experience is enhanced massively when barefoot.
So what about the feet?
Think about it? Free-play outdoors; what are we talking? Running, jumping, climbing, -it's all movement.
My children (and I) were barefoot throughout the majority of camping experience. They didn't hurt their feet, no nettle stings, no bites, thorns, or cries.
We know that proprioception is enhanced without shoes. So as an extension so should movement.
Erm....Proprioception you say?
Yep. Proprioception. Sounds like something that might be in some science fiction film. Actually, proprioceptors (that provide proprioception) are tiny little nerve endings in our bodies that help with balance, performance and setting muscle tension. I have written about this before here.
When we walk, we take for granted what we do to get from point A to point B without falling. Our eyes play a major role along with our vestibular system (fluid in our inner ear that regulates balance) in helping us maintain balance. What most people don't realise is that we have little nerve endings in our hands and feet that tell our muscles and the rest of the body exactly where we are in position, space and time. In English, that means you can close your eyes and touch your nose with your finger because of proprioceptors. Those little nerve endings know where your arm is in space allowing you to perform the desired action. Now, the real test; Try standing on one foot and get your balance. Not too hard for many, but impossible for some. Now close your eyes while standing on one foot. Once the eyes are closed, you are relying only on proprioceptors for balance.
Look at these photos below - my children control their limbs really well, they know where they are in space and are relying on proprioception to do this since their sight must become a blur as they flip backwards or forwards. When they do this with shoes one can easily observe that they have less control of their moves and certainly hit the ground harder - the shoes impair the full potential of their proprioceptive sensors.
So there you go. Wanna save your kids from modern life? Take them camping, ideally when it rains, you'll want a leak or two, then take their shoes off and enjoy! In fact there's a trailer tent going free - just drop me a line!
p.s. If you like this I would smile lots if you were able to share it please!