The TRUTH about camping

Ahhh camping! A wonderful opportunity to live in the great outdoors, to wake up to the sounds of nature, with birdsong and the fresh smell of the trees; A time to be free from the pressures of daily life, without the noise of social media, television and the craziness of the rat race; A time for families to be united around a cosy camp the fire, snuggled up in blankets, drinking hot chocolate, toasting marshmallows and watching the sky for shooting stars…together. A camping holiday is a wonderful way to go on holiday, without spending unnecessary money on flights or accommodation, instead simply popping a few bits in the car, and heading off for a few days of true freedom….APPARENTLY.

Our family’s experience of camping is absolutely nothing like any of these descriptions. For a couple who rarely argue, we have noted a considerable increase in conflict during, in particular, the pitching of the tent…who am I kidding? The stress levels head upwards from the very beginning.

I should probably put this in context…The Roper family – all five of us – head off for a week’s camping every Summer. We go to a big church festival called New Wine, where around 10,000 people gather at an agricultural ground for a week of seminars, activities and time with friends. We book our whole family in – at a fairly considerable cost. Last year was a little cheaper as we decided to serve on various teams (kids’ teams and the New Wine FM radio team) which meant that we were able to go along for free!
So from about March we knew that, come July, we’d be heading down to Somerset for a week. It was around this time that I started to lay in bed at night, listing all the things we would need for our week away…tent, sleeping bags, air beds, pillows, camping stove, camping kitchen unit, pots and pans, kettle, cutlery, crockery, first aid kit, lanterns, torches, washing-up bowl, camping fridge (yes, we like a bit of luxury….so we borrow one!), camping gas cylinders, another tent for our eldest son and his buddy, towels, clothes, raincoats (well, it is England), umbrellas, table, chairs….you get the idea. Obviously, I also need bunting, fairy lights, cushions, blanket and throws and all other manner of decorative extras to make us look like Professional Campers…goes without saying, surely? So, keeping the cost low? Not exactly. Taking a few bits? Not really. Packing our car boot is reminiscent of an episode of the Krypton Factor. And surely our kids are not the only ones to argue on long car journeys? Not exactly stress-free…

During The Planning Process (there were many, many lists) I also started to experience flashbacks to the year before when I spent many nights re-pumping my airbed after repeatedly waking up on a cold, bumpy tent floor. These flashbacks were reported back to my husband, who then also began experiencing similar “traumatic” flashbacks concerning night time trips to the toilet block. “I really resent having to put a hoody and my shoes on to go to the toilet in the middle of the night. I hate the fact that the walk wakes up so much, that it is virtually impossible to get back to sleep again!” He got pretty passionate about it…
That walk to the camping toilet block is one I have taken many times. Walking in the dark is not my favourite. Neither is walking in the dark in my pyjamas. I’m not especially keen on getting lost on the way back to my tent. A good friend of mine still has not overcome the guilt of sending her son to scout camp, where he got lost on the way back from the toilet block and ended up spending an hour sat under a tree until he was found by a scout leader…he was fine, just a bit cold…

The joy of returning home after camping, and especially of walking – on soft carpet – only a few steps to the bathroom in the middle of the night is something that cannot be compared. Perhaps that alone is the reason to endure the suffering of camping?


In developing and war-torn countries, many people have miles to walk to the nearest toilet. Many women and children have experienced attacks in the day or night, as they have made their way to the most local loo. This November, Hope Law are supported the fantastic charity, Toilet Twinning UK who have committed to building safe, clean and nearby toilets for families in developing and war-torn countries. For only £60, you can “twin your toilet” with another, funding the building of more toilets, improving sanitation and safety for many people. Head over to our Make A Difference page to see how you can twin your toilet!

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