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Choosing to say yes: a winter camp

Life can sometimes feel full of “no’s” – I often feel this myself, and we are highly aware as parents that there are just some times where we have to say no to our son…. So we make a conscious decision whenever we can to say ‘yes’ to our son’s suggestions for what he would like us to do.

This has led to some great adventures, with him regularly pulling the card from our adventure jar to decide what we are doing on a weekend. It was his suggestion that led us to sleep in a cave – all we had to do was work out the logistics and say yes.

Our son initiated another adventure this week when he asked if we could go wildcamping. It was a busy week, with me about to go to a conference in the USA on the Friday for my work, and with a thousand and one other things to do. It would have been so easy to say no, but instead we made the choice to see how we could make it happen. We checked the weather and it looked quite settled but cold on Wednesday night, so we cleared the diaries.

There has finally been some snow in Scotland, which is actually sticking around. This allowed us to combine wildcamping with an afternoon playing in the snow first so we identified a potential valley, just a short distance to the north of the Glenshee ski centre.

An Outdoors Family

As it is winter and was forecast to be cold, we took our campervan with us as a base because it allowed us to warm up between activities, and provided a safety net in case we needed to bail out of camping during the night. It also gave us somewhere to warm up in and have a second breakfast before heading home on Thursday morning.

We set off on our wildcamp at about 4 pm from the van, and walked about an hour up the valley following a good track. After we passed a hunting lodge we got to the area we had planned to camp in and our son was eager to choose the spot, so we let him run ahead and look about. He chose a spot raised up from the valley floor, which was flat with pretty short grass. It was a spot on choice.

An Outdoors Family

We set up our tent, airbeds, quilt and additional child’s down sleeping bag for our son before we cooked pasta and sauce for dinner, with cups of icy cold water to drink. After dinner we ran around to get properly warm as the sun went down and darkness fell. We headed into the tent and snuggled under the duvet playing with some lego (not a good choice in a tent it turns out!)

As evening drew on we started to settle our son down for the night – he snuggled into his down sleeping bag which we had been warming up over our legs. We all took turns telling made up bedtime stories and eventually our son drifted off.

The first part of the night was really clear skies, giving amazing views of the stars and snowy mountains, but at the price of being brutally cold. We are not exactly sure how cold it got, but reckon it was around -5 to -7 degrees Celsius. One trick to using a quilt effectively in these cold temperatures is sealing out drafts. This took us a few attempts at different points during the night, but we settled on an approach of tucking it around our sides, under our toes and burying our heads under too, to stave off the freezing noses.

Combined with the cold was a significantly stronger wind than expected, giving me one of my all time favorite sounds, gusts of wind roaring down a valley before shaking the tent. The down side was that a couple of times during the night our guy line line-locks slipped, suddenly losing all tension and forcing me to get out and re-set them. After the second time this happened I tied knots in the lines to make sure they couldn’t slip again.

We gently dosed as our son slept straight through until about 3 am when it started snowing, gently at first, making just a hissing sound as it hit, then slid off the tent. The soothing sounds and warmer temperatures linked with the cloud cover led to our best few hours sleep that night.

In the morning we awoke to heavier snowfall, quickly adding to the 2 inches that had fallen overnight. As we only had a short walk out, we forwent our hot breakfast and had sandwiches in the tent instead, before packing everything up inside. When we were ready and all kitted up in waterproofs we headed out, quickly took the tent down and walked through the fresh crunching snow, with more falling and spotted a few icicles that had appeared over night!

An Outdoors Family

An Outdoors Family

Once back, we treated ourselves to bacon sandwiches for us, and noodles for our son (his choice) for a hot breakfast, coupled with tea and coffee all round.

This family adventure was a real experience. We think it is the most snow we have had fall overnight on any camp we have done, even before we had our son, and it will certainly be an experience that will stick in our minds for many years to come. By simply challenging ourselves to not automatically say no, but to consciously say yes to our son’s suggestions, coupled with a can do attitude, we have got to experience some really unique adventures as a family.

An Outdoors Family

I wonder what unique adventures we can all get up to when we decide to say yes and ignore the hundreds of little reasons we might say no every day? Do you consciously decide to say yes sometimes to your children’s suggestions? If so where has it led you, and if not I challenge you to give it a go… you might be surprised by the things you get up to!

© 2016, An Outdoors Family. All rights reserved.

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