How to Fail At Camping

So you have agreed to go camping. You have done it before, and it was a near catastrophic event, but like child birth, you forget just how painful it can be and decide optimistically to do it again. The morning you are due to you leave you look for your tent, and cannot find it anywhere. Eventually it turns up in a corner of the garage, loose and mouldy. You couldn’t get it back in the bag last time you camped, meant to have another go at home, but as soon as you got in the door you forgot the tent even existed. You still can’t get it into its bag, but manage to cram it into a giant carrier from Ikea. That will do. Repeat the above for sleeping bags, and mattresses. In fact have to resort to buying new, cheap mattress, because the all singing, all dancing, inflates itself one you spent a fortune on last year has vanished. Set off for campsite, late, and grumpy.

How to fail at camping

Arrive at campsite, try to erect (sniggers) tent to discover you do not have tent pegs. Attempt to use forks. It does not work, so you have to wait until dark, then sneak around the campsite surreptitiously stealing one from each tent until you have enough.

Discover that inflating 2 double air beds with a foot powered air pump is the equivalent of a marathon. A marathon you are not fit enough for, so you resort to sleeping on limp under inflated beds. Frankly a sheet would have provided as much comfort.

When it comes to sleeping, you will need to wear all your clothes at once. It is quite surprising how cold it is at night, and that summer duvet you grabbed off your bed as you ran out the door is simply not man enough for the job. Also pack ear plugs. Not for the noise of other campers, but so you can’t hear your other half complaining about how much he hates camping all night. In fact, keep them in all day too. Enjoy the peace.

Awaken to the delicious small of bacon frying in next doors camping kitchen. You may have been vegetarian for almost 30 years, but it is a smell designed to make you hungry. They are also making fresh coffee. You have none of these things. You don’t even have the cereal bars, fruit, and juice cartons of the mid-level organised campers to the other side of you. But don’t worry. Flat warm coke, and soggy digestive biscuits are both nutritional and tasty. The resulting sugar rush will see you all through the morning.

Now what? Well if you are lucky, you are at a festival, so you can leave your bleak canvas surroundings behind and go frolic in the sun mud with a shandy and some live music. If you are unlucky enough to need to make your own entertainment you can watch while your kids try to steal the balls/frisbees/travel games of the organised people around you. Some entertainment can be gleaned by watching the teen trying to find high ground in the hope of a mobile phone signal.

Then at the end of it all, you can pack up. There is NO WAY that that tent came out of that bag. You try ever more outlandish canvas origami, but to no avail, it will not fit, so you sling it loose in the boot, with the promise to dry it and pack it properly at home. Which is where we came in.

This pretty much describes my camping. I have to do it at Camp Bestival next weekend. Help me. For tips on how to be much more organised and fabulous see this awesome post from the Alexander Residence, I know where to head next weekend if I have forgotten anything  everything!

 Love Miss not terribly good under canvas Cisco XXX




  1. July 26, 2013 / 11:01 am

    Ha! We went and forgot tent pegs! Me and 10yr old stood in a windy field holding down the tent while Hubby went to buy some 🙂 xx

    • Sonya Cisco
      July 26, 2013 / 11:21 am

      haha, I once had to chase a tent across as field as it cartwheeled away from us!

  2. Marilynn
    July 26, 2013 / 11:54 am

    I am sure your camping thia time will be much better! Try not to worry! We love camping! We used to be quite seasoned campers before having Holly. Went for the 1st time with her the other week and was a bit apprehensive but it turned out great. As long as you don’t count the 5.30am wake up from Holly (sadly you can’t fit blackout blinds on a tent). We have had a few camping disasters though. Like the time David hooked the gas up incorrectly to the camping stove and it blew up (almost in his face). He lost half his eyebrows and the tent nearly burnt down! Camping ROCKS!

    • Sonya Cisco
      July 26, 2013 / 2:57 pm

      I love camping, I am just not very good at it, and my OH hates it!

  3. The Alexander Residence
    July 26, 2013 / 12:00 pm

    Ha ha, great post, this made me laugh, we had a deflated mattress and the wrong gas canister earlier in the month in Cornwall, hence the definitive list, I am so not going to suffer no tea and crap sleep at Camp Bestival! Can’t wait to meet up with everyone 🙂

    • Sonya Cisco
      July 26, 2013 / 2:57 pm

      I need to buy a new tent yet- too many of us for my trusty 4 man this time!

  4. The Alexander Residence
    July 26, 2013 / 12:09 pm

    And our next door neighbours In Cornwall, yep they had bacon and a gas stove and coffee. I am a veggie too, and I don’t do coffee, but you are so right it brings on instant HUNGER! They did have a spare stove so redeemed themselves 🙂

    • Sonya Cisco
      July 26, 2013 / 2:56 pm

      Now that is the spirit of the blitz in camping form right there- sharing stoves with your neighbour- love it!

  5. Actually Mummy...
    July 26, 2013 / 7:36 pm

    Heheh! We’re doing it all twice this summer, and you pretty much have it down to a tee here. I’ll make sure to re-check before I pack 😉

  6. SarahMummy
    July 27, 2013 / 6:28 am

    Good luck! I haven’t been camping since Phoenix festival (I think that only happened once or twice) age 19. I refuse to go. I just KNOW I hate camping. This would totally be me. I’m sure you will have an amazing time anyway.

  7. Distressed Housewife
    July 27, 2013 / 7:14 am

    Uh-oh, I’m terrified now. We’re camping virgins and have arranged to go with some friends in the next couple of weeks. Left to our own devices, this would no doubt describe our attempts at camping; I’m just hoping our friends will be the organised ones next to you 😉 Great post, really made me giggle 🙂 x

  8. Kara Guppy
    July 27, 2013 / 10:11 am

    i used to love camping – not tried it with kids!

  9. Catherine Burden
    July 27, 2013 / 12:26 pm

    We love camping, we started bringing our kids when the youngest was 5 out to the backcountry. The first time we went with the little ones, we packed the 2 canoes with all camping stuff, canoed a very big lake, unpack canoed, portaged, repack canoe, canoed another long lake while looking for a small orange triangle representing a campsite.It was dark, and my husband was getting very angry, and kept asking if I was sure there would be an orange triangle for us. I said yes, it is just a first come first serve thing but whomever called an reserved gets one. We found the last one on the lake.

    The adventure turned out fabulous. Our kids are now 24, 21, & 18 and since the youngest was five we have taken to the backcountry every summer, and they wouldn’t have it any different.

  10. Anonymous
    July 28, 2013 / 7:18 am

    Camping can be so difficult especially if you have very little ones to look after – no walls to restrain them from wandering away and getting lost. I had that very experience when we first went camping away for the weekend with four children. My son the youngest, then aged 2, was always up to mischief!

    But thank god I had thought to take his highchair with us. The only way I could keep him from wandering off when I was busy with the others was to put him in his high chair and feed him treats – pieces of apple, carrots and marmite sandwiches. He would sit there happy as a lark putting food in his mouth – nothing much has changed. He still visits the fridge every 2 minutes to see if some food fairy has put some extra tit bits in there for him.

    Thankgoodness for metabolism – he is 6ft 4in and as slim as can be-he wants to be a rockstar!!

    If you haven’t got a portable highchair for your child look at these safe brands on

  11. schmindie
    July 28, 2013 / 8:27 am

    I’ve heard that places like Latitude will let you hire a tent and sleeping bags. Now if only you could hire quiet, some sleep, tinnitus solutions so you could wear earplugs and comfy grass and I’d be there!

  12. helloitsgemma
    July 29, 2013 / 2:36 pm

    *makes a note not to camp near Sonya*
    see I hadn’t thought to bring anything to entertain my child *makes notes to bring frisbee*.
    My first camp bestival I borrowed a tent, I had no idea how to put it up. I spent 30 minutes getting sunburnt and failing miserably. Luckily the woman next to me got fed up of relaxing and enjoying some time to herself and put my tent up for me. Thankfully, she had also brought a mallet – who knew the ground was so hard? 5 minutes spent trying to inflate airbed, failed! slept on the hard ground all weekend – vodka helps with that. See you there!

  13. August 1, 2013 / 3:16 pm

    This is going to be me in a fortnight when we go camping with the kids for the first time.


  14. Emily Foran
    August 3, 2013 / 12:30 am

    Good luck – I haven’t done it in years love the idea but rarely the reality but I’m sure you’ll have an AMAZING time anyway! Wish I was going, looks so much fun and Levellers are there 🙁 xx

  15. Johnie Davies
    March 6, 2014 / 8:36 pm

    Great title! rechargeable batteries and telling people the number of the campsite also would be wise in my opinion! You can tell I have been lost before with no torch!!

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