I recently went on a camping trip with my niece and nephew (6 and 8), their Nan and my husband. When the kids first got to the camp site their reaction was of utter misery! First comments were ‘there’s nothing to do!’. Nan was thinking we were going to have to drive them into town every day and find kids activity centers to keep them busy. A half hour later the kids were off with the daughter of the camp sites owner. There were forts others had built that got the kids imaginations. There was even an area where there were deer bones all over, the kids found several antlers. Mom and dad must have been so happy with those souvenirs!
In our plans for this camping trip we decided to get the kids emergency whistles. We sat the kids down and explained that if they wanted to go exploring the woods without a grownup they must bring their whistles. The whistles for if they got lost or turned around in the woods and needed someone to come find them. My niece actually did need to use the whistle once, she got a bit turned around and was not sure how to find her way back to camp, when my husband heard that whistle he was able to go find her within a few minutes. I am sure it gave her confidence knowing that she could blow that whistle if she got lost or even hurt and someone would be able to find her.
I really enjoyed the time I had with my niece and nephew. Watching them build their confidence in the woods and use their imagination while playing in an unstructured environment, unlike the structure and boundaries of school was amazing. The pair of them turned into little wood sprites! We all had a wonderful time and with the ratio of 3 adults to 2 kids meant that someone could always be having a break from the kids if need be. I wish all kids could have camping experiences like the one we had. I think they got to get back to basics with no tv and got to find their real selves.