Coming from a family of five born from the 40s through to the 60s, we all raised our family within easy distance of each other. Now fast forward to 2018, and we’re scattered far and wide. And over this time our children have had little ones of their own. We, as a family, way back then didn’t have the technology that kids have today. It was a case of our mother stating, “you kids get outside and play”. And that we did from noon ’til night.

Morning and afternoon teas were an apple or peach picked from the numerous fruit trees in our backyard, Blackboy peaches being my favourite.

As my sisters and I got chatting we reminisced about the games we used to play, and adventures we had growing up, that was some long conversation. To see my sisters together now, no longer children but grandparents with all the wrinkles and ailments to match, still laughing openly about those memories. Well, something sparked in us.

We decided to give our grandchildren a gift, not just any gift but a very special one.

How to create a multi-family camping experience

Step 1: Find a location, and set it up with tents and a bonfire

One sister has a sizeable chunk of land on her property and there the plot began. We choose a long weekend and asked all of our children to keep it free and bring the grandchildren and expect to stay the night.

As they pulled up to my youngest sister’s property they were greeted with numerous tents all in a row and a caravan or two for bathroom duties. There’s a number of places online where you can hire tents and small marquees for an occasion like this. Or you can beg and borrow enough tents to make it work.

In the centre of the land was a huge bonfire. Just note, in most places in the summer time now, you’ll need to get a special consent to have a bonfire. And in some locations, you’re just not allowed an open fire now. In that case, just bring in some portable gas heaters, and lots of solar powered led lights place around the heaters in a circle.

teen bonfire party idea

Step 2: Design a whole itinerary of games and activities, with prizes!

During the day we played hide and seek, had egg and spoon races, running races and yes, the favourite sack races, not to mention three-legged races. These covered all the ages and much laughter was heard echoing around the quiet of the land.

creating a multi-family camping experience

We even had a Mr Muscle contest and a beauty pageant, and I am not saying who won except that, “it wasn’t me!” Although, I did win a prize for the slowest runner, a tea bag, no less. For a great list of picnic-style party games, check out 12 old fashioned outdoor party games.

After a huge BBQ was cooked for all, we sat around the bonfire roasting marshmallows and singing songs. The blackness of the night not only show-cased magnificent stars but the sound of a Morepork calling terrified the young ones, having never heard it before. The older ones we thought would never go to bed, they were shrieking with delight in the distance playing flashlight with torches, and this made us wonder if we would get any sleep.

The next morning saw bacon and eggs cooked on the same Barbie from the night before. Togs and towels were gathered, and it was off to the water hole, which required a considerable tramp. None of these children had ever swum in a water hole, just pools and beaches and they had a ball!

Step 3: Do it all again next year, and create a family tradition

As our families departed, I got a text from the youngest family of wee ones, the kids were asleep by the time they got to the end of the driveway! But what surprised me the most was the 11-16 year olds who constantly ask, ‘when are we going to do it again?’ And have we? You betcha!

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Diane Vivian is the founding member and chair of Grandparents Raising Grandchildren Trust NZ. When in 1997, Diane Vivian took over the care of her small, traumatised grandchildren, she could not believe the stress she encountered. Setting about to discover what help or support was available in 1999, she found there was none! The organisation formed to meet this need salutes all Grandparents/kin who have taken in Grand/kin children and put the needs of those precious ones before their own.

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