It started as a 40th birthday weekend last year for a great friend and its become an annual event; a dozen families from our village spending a long weekend together on an eco campsite in Suffolk. Despite growing up in Norfolk, I’m not a natural country girl – or camper (my Burberry Mac which is my only current raincoat is proof of that). But, I am a happy one.
Last year there was sunshine, sports day and a silent disco; this year it was Brexit and big rainclouds. But in spite of the stormy landscape (political and otherwise) there was big smiles all round. It was utterly idyllic watching our kids wading barefoot through muddy swamps with their mates, making bug hotels and clay animals, crafting under canvas and building dens.
In the last couple of years we’ve been doing this I’ve learned there’s nothing better than bonding with good friends round a camp fire, the vast Suffolk sky matched only by the vast amount of alcohol in our systems.
It’s even better when the group knows you well enough to gift you one of the Glamping bell tents on site. Next year I’ve even promised to buy a full set of waterproofs… and to learn how to pitch a tent!
3 tips to make your group camping trip a success
1. Food, glorious food
Plan your meals – and your shopping list – and get it all delivered to the site when you arrive. Book a second delivery of chilled alcohol, ice and bread for the next day. Food-wise, think about what’s easy to make en masse: we ate home made chilli with baked potatoes the first night and delicious pre-prepared pork and salmon sliders the next.
2. Make it a meritocracy
Play to people’s skills when divvying out jobs and be clear what you can (literally) bring to the party. My husband makes a mean slow-cooked pulled pork so that’s become our regular group camping Saturday night sustenance. I baked batches of biscuits and organised a crafting event for the kids. The giant shopping list I leave to someone with actual organisational skills!
3. Get in the commune spirit
Be aware of everyone else in the group: have your mates’ children run out of clean clothes? Lend them some more! Is someone battling to put up their tent? Help them! Finally, ban the iPads and encourage your kids to bond with nature. They’ll find more fun things to do in a 4 acre field than they will in the app store.