As the seasons turn, the trees shed their leaves and the nights draw in, we are looking back and reflecting on our Family Camping trips of 2021.
For our community, our Family Camping trips are a huge highlight of the year. We go to our haven, Fairyland, and we create a community together for a week. We share games, recipes, dreams, stories, adventures… Together, we make discoveries, meals and memories.
We rely on one another. "It is not possible to go camping with a baby single-handed unless you have a community around you to help," said one mum. "We are like a big family," said a child.
This year six families joined us for their first ever camping trip and four families - who were once first-time campers and are now experts - joined us as volunteers. We went on two camping trips to Fairyland at Green Farm Kent, one in the May school half term and another at the beginning of the school holidays.
It is always a week of firsts… Yaa’s first time in a natural pond. Isha’s first shooting star. Hayley, Leila, Lloyd, Jamila, Seb, Hannah, Filipe, Patrícia and Claire’s first time as Outdoor People Volunteers. Mark’s first time putting up a tent. Jim the dog’s first time at Fairyland. Everyone’s first time visiting a dairy farm and baking cake in oranges over the fire!
"My one great thing from the family camping trip has been seeing my child open up and be more confident"
We worked hard behind the scenes this year to develop processes and resources so that families felt more empowered to lead the camping trips and make them ‘their own’. We developed laminated recipe cards, how-to guides and a volunteer training manual. We held our first Volunteer Training Weekend in April, where we proofed tents and ran training sessions in Safeguarding, Diversity & Inclusion and Top Camping Tips. This training weekend meant our new volunteers for 2021 - especially families who learned how to camp through our Family Camping trips - had space to grow their confidence, skills and awareness of how to create a brave and welcoming community space for everyone joining our Family Camping trips.
COVID-19 was still a worry this year, but thankfully we’d learnt so much from our 2020 camping trips that we were able to make sure the trips were Covid-safe. One of the key implementations for reducing the spread of the virus was to set up family pods, where each family pod had their own kitchen area and compost toilet. This reduced the number of shared facilities and gave families a greater sense of independence.
Another great thing we did this year was to invite a big group of fresh campers to join us on the weekend at the end of our last camp of the year. Chris, Seb, Claire, Yaa, Hannah and Patrícia joined us with their energy and expert camping skills to help us pack up the camp and give our kit some TLC, ready for the next adventure. After a long couple of days of cleaning, sorting, packing, lugging, golf cart-driving and proofing, we were treated to a dip in Green Farm Kent’s beautiful natural swimming pool. Thanks to the team, we are all set for next year’s family camping trips!
Meanwhile, back in Hackney, we’ve been going on adventures closer to home. Throughout the year, every two weeks our community has gathered together to explore our local green spaces on Family Wild Walks. We’ve adventured to Finsbury Park, Gillespie Park, Springfield Park, Walthamstow Marshes, Hackney Marshes, Mabley Green, Clapton Square and so many more great green spaces in Hackney! On every Wild Walk this year families have discovered a place they’d never been to before. We now have 10 Wild Walk maps around Hackney for children to take their adults on adventures! Our Wild Walks are free or pay-as-you-can but we ask every family joining to take another family on their own Wild Walk, and in this way, pay-it-forward. To find out more, visit our Family Wild Walks page.
We’d like to thank our Outdoor Families community for making every Family Camping trip and Wild Walk adventure a welcoming, playful and friendly experience. We’d like to thank our sponsors and funders - The National Lottery, Arc'Teryx, Marmot, It's Great Out There, School of Social Entrepreneurs, Hackney Giving, People's Postcode Lottery - without whom these vital adventures could not have been possible. And we’d like to thank our friends Green Farm Kent and Pearce Coggan Foundation for nurturing the magical land of Fairyland and so kindly welcoming us to this special place every year.
Supporting Outdoor Family Camping in 2021
If you'd like to support our Outdoor Family camping programme, you can donate through our Local Giving page.
You could choose to stay at Green Farm Kent, visit their spa, go on a retreat or go along to one of their Thursday Coffee Mornings. Like us, Green Farm puts a part of all their profits into the Foundation, and if you mention us they'll dedicate a portion of what you spend to Outdoor Family Camping. Find out more here.
"My one great thing from the family camping trip has been the change in pace"