Lots and lots of families tell us they would like to go camping, but they don't have the right kit, don't know where to go, or can't afford to travel ... Outdoor People's aim is to make the outdoors easy, and Outdoor Family Camping does just that. It's basically the point of our social enterprise.
There are few organisations in London that offer inexperienced or at-risk families the chance to go camping. Outdoor Family Camping is a programme designed to take families somewhere where they are allowed to let their children play freely, and see the difference several hours outdoors makes to a child’s stress levels, activity rates and happiness.
Through Outdoor Family Camping we aim to create a culture within the home, and within the community, where outdoor play is seen as a normal part of everyday life, and a mini-adventure in the wild is viewed as a practicable and affordable option for a holiday. Families with young children are most likely to start making changes, and a big change can happen with immersive experiences.
Why is Outdoor Family Camping important?
At Outdoor People, we believe in the benefits of feeling connected to nature and the benefits of outdoor recreation. We know that letting children go out to play and making sure they enjoy more active lives is one of the best things that parents can do for their children’s health – a view supported by the UK's Chief Medical Officer – we also feel it's good for the spirit, and a good way for families to connect.
Going camping or travelling to a park are great, low-cost, fun activities. However:
- Children and families in poverty are less likely to take part in sport or an exercise activity, own a waterproof coat and all-weather shoes, or go on an annual holiday (Joseph Rowntree Foundation 2000)
- Families in deprived urban environments, those in social grades D and E, and those from BAME backgrounds are among the groups least likely to visit the natural environment (Natural England, 2015).
- Every child in London is within 15 minutes walk to a park; yet 1 in 7 families have not visited a green space in the last year (London Sustainable Development Commission, 2011).
What we do to support Outdoor Family Camping
Our main focus is to organise weekend adventures for families who have no experience of camping, or can't afford to go. However, we also:
- lend kit to organisations taking families and kids on camping expeditions.
- share information about where to go, and run free workshops on basic camping skills
- offer advice and moral support and a library of books about camping
- offer kit for hire.
How can I help?
We use profits from the shop and consultancy to subsidise camping trips, but we rely on the support of our sponsors, grant funding, and Outdoor People volunteers to make the trips happen.
If you're interested in supporting Outdoor People Family Camping, or would like to volunteer your time, please get in touch.
It's a year-round initiative. You can keep up with what we've been doing to help families get outdoors in the last few months through the Outdoor Family Camping blog below.