The school holidays are upon us, the weather is warming up, so you know what that means: time for the family to hit the road and take full advantage of the great outdoors!
However, for a lot of parents, juggling your work schedule with the scholastic calendar can be very tricky – especially when trying to squeeze in a camping adventure. So, what’s the solution? How can you get the kids out of the house while mum and dad are strapped for time? Perhaps your family should consider ‘Gramping’ these school holidays.
“Gramping? What the heck is that?”
Gramping (Grandparents + Camping) is grandchildren and grandparents sharing a multigenerational experience together while camping. It is the unique opportunity for grandparents to engage with their grandchildren in an environment completely devoid of domestic distractions and to create lasting memories with their loved ones.
Sharing stories, playing games, and enjoying a healthy lifestyle are all on the menu while Gramping. Camping to Australians is an institution, and that enthusiasm should be passed down to future generations. It’s a step up from grandma and grandpa simply babysitting the grandkids for a few hours at their house, and instead nurturing deeper familial connections in nature.
But wait, what activities can a five-year-old and seventy-year-old participate in together, and find mutually enjoyable? Do mum and dad get to join in on the fun, too? The Let’s Go Guide to Gramping will help provide a few tips and tricks for preparing for the best possible Gramping experience:
1. All the right gear, in all the right places
Like any camping trip, it is essential that you pack all the basic gear you’re going to need for the duration of your stay. Consider each aspect of daily life while staying at the campground or holiday park and your family’s comfortability. The nostalgia of a tent-based trip may warm the cockles of your heart, but it isn’t necessarily practical for those in their twilight years. An RV or campervan is a great solution for those wanting to avoid an involved set-up / packdown. Food, warm clothes, toiletries, bedding, medications and a first aid kit are must haves. Make a checklist prior to departure, and tick off those boxes to avoid being caught out on-site.
2. A short (initial) trip is a good trip
This may not be grandma and grandpas first rodeo when it comes to camping, but for the young ones, it’s a major first. You don’t want to overwhelm them, and in turn, place stress upon those caring for them. Gently introduce them to the great outdoors by planning a trip with a short duration and in a location that’s at maximum a few hours’ drive from home. This will create a solid foundation to build upon and allow you to plan more elaborate future plans.
3. X marks the spot
When deciding where to Gramp, we strongly encourage you to do your homework. Is there ready access to power? Is there clean drinking water available? Researching each potential campground or holiday park will help dictate what you need to bring, and whether the site is appropriate for you. The big one is to consider what amenities are available and your proximity to them. Young and old alike need ready access to bathrooms and showers at all times. If you are travelling in an RV or caravan that has on-board amenities, you have greater freedom to explore more off-grid options.
Bathrooms and showers aside, investigate the surrounding area of where you are staying. There will be countless day-trip destinations at your fingertips with a range of potential activities to choose from.
4. Activities, activities, activities
You’ve travelled, you’ve arrived, you’ve set-up… Now you need to keep those kids occupied.
Try planning a few activities for each day, while maintaining time for rest and relaxation between. This will help grandparents avoid burn out and set the pace for the rest of trip. It is a vacation, after all. Perhaps a quiet morning of bacon and eggs, followed by an afternoon of bin-cricket. Or, an early morning hike, followed by an afternoon of cards. Board games are a life saver if you need an emergency defense for keeping children entertained, or if the weather goes south. Loose plans are the best plans when working with young children. Plus, it offers grandparents a reprieve from any laborious activity while also engaging with their grandkids.
Evenings should be dedicated to sitting around the fire (rules permitting). Telling yarns, singing and of course, toasting marshmallows. Grandparents can use this as a chance to share anecdotes from their own lives, and pass down their story to an undistracted audience.
5. Mum and dad joining for the weekend – without taking leave
With an established campsite, and supplies at the ready, this provides the perfect opportunity for mum and dad to drop in and out whenever they please. Parents that are unable to take leave for extended periods, can simply join the rest of the family for a weekend away, and then return to work.
If you’re still not sold, according to the Real Richness Australia Health and Wellness report, a whopping 71% of campers with grandchildren said they felt closer after their trip.
So get out of your comfort zone these school holidays and get gramping!
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See the Health and Wellness report here.