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Happy Camping Image

I think we’re really lucky to live in a country that has such a wide array of resources for families.

This summer, we’ve promised the kids a long-awaited camping trip and thankfully are spoilt for choice when it comes to campsites across Scotland. But whilst you might think that camping is simple, it’s not actually a case of packing a tent and going - particularly when it comes to family camping! Thankfully, The Centre, Livingston is a great place to source all those little items that you might need along the way:

What sort of camping would you like to do?

The last few years have seen ‘glamping’ really become established. The obvious benefit is that this is a much more comfortable approach and they often come fully equipped. However, many are still ‘off grid’ and you still have to think about entertaining the kids!

On our last visit to The Centre we headed to Argos to pick up a few summer toys and found some great options at The Cotswolds Outdoors. From previous experience, I’ve found that if I want the kids to sleep at night then they need to do LOTS of running around during the day. A frisbee is both easy to pack and fun to play for the whole family but I also always take a pocket kite as well - even with a light breeze these are easy to fly and keep the kids occupied for ages.

If you’re looking for a more back-to-basics approach then you’ll obviously need to think about a tent. If you’re planning to stay for a week somewhere, then opting for a large tent with an indoor living area is a sensible option. But on the other hand, if you’re just looking for an odd night outdoors then a smaller tent would be fine!

One thing to consider is that Scotland can still get quite cold - even in the summer months - so the benefit of a smaller tent is that it will get cosy quickly with the heat from multiple bodies!

To see a few different choices, The Cotswolds Outdoors, which is a great size, spread across two floors, has some options on display and experience staff on hand who are able to advise.

How can you ensure a good camping experience?

To ensure happy campers, I think it’s key not to get cold so a good sleeping bag and sleeping mat is imperative! Sleeping bags have different ‘seasons’ and temperature ratings but for summer camping in Scotland - I would suggest looking for a 2-season sleeping bag as a minimum. Again, The Cotswolds has a great display with all the information you need and a number of sleeping bags and mats that you can look at.

Even though we’ve got a number of sleeping bags at home, this year my daughter was really keen to get her own sleeping bag after her brother received one for Christmas. Argos have various options for smaller children with built-in inflatable sleep mats (also brilliant for sleep overs) with various familiar cartoon characters. But also have more ‘grown-up’ style sleeping bags in child sizes as well. My daughter has even taken to utilising her one whilst watching TV in the mornings, so they really do have multiple uses!

What do you wear?

Whilst you obviously don’t need any specific clothing for camping, I’d always look for options that were quick drying and that are easy to wash. If there’s a remote chance of wet weather I’d avoid jeans and always think about easy to add layers!

Deichmann not only had a great mid-season sale on when we last visited but also had some super options in terms of footwear for both adults and kids. I loved their array of Paw Patrol wellies and trainers for the kids, and my daughter was delighted to find a wide selection of flip-flops. Whilst I’d love to say this summer will be dry, I would still always pack wellingtons but flip-flops are always useful for trip to the pool or even for padding around at home!

Both my kids have grown so much recently, and both like to create a lot of washing by playing outdoors a lot! It’s important for them to have layers that they can peel off as things warm up, but of course it’s paramount that they stay protected from the sun as well. The Cotswolds Outdoors had some lovely kid’s options with built in UV protection but that also appeal to the kids as well.

I was delighted to pick up some shorts and a t-shirt for my daughter along with a Jack Wolfskin jacket that is both wind and water resistant on top of its UV protection.

What’s the best way to keep fed?

Most campsites I’ve visited have always had the telephone number of the local takeaway on display; whilst this can be a great option as a treat it’s not really the answer for every meal time! For family camping, all you really need is a simple gas canister stove - and a kettle to go with it. Again, The Cotswolds Outdoors has a number of options on display but remember you’ll also need things for washing up as well!

For dealing with dirty dishes and actually storing all those odds and ends - we visited Wilkos to stock up on some Tupperware and to grab a few extra cleaning supplies. They have a great variety of stock so you never really know what you’ll find in there so it’s always worth a look in!

Of course, we couldn’t visit The Centre without visiting one of the many places to eat, so we stopped for a quick pit stop at Debenhams. They’ve got a great selection for kids of both hot and cold options; my daughter opted for a bowl of Mac & Cheese with garlic bread whilst I simply refueled with a coffee - I certainly think I’ll need the energy to keep up with my kids this summer!

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