The benefits of going wild (camping) with your child

Alex Clasper, co-founder of CampWild, explains how he thinks getting back to nature will improve your parenting.

wild camping working dads


“A year ago, my lifelong friend Tom Backhouse and I were pitched up at the top of a valley after an adventurous day of exploring the Lakes; as a gentle breeze whipped over our tent, the glowing sun shimmered on Lake Coniston and slowly set over the horizon. If there was ever a lightbulb moment, this was it. It had become overwhelmingly clear to us both that spending time surrounded by nature was an absolute anchor in our lives. It was something that was so powerful it needed to be shared, with everyone.

This year, we launched CampWild to help people do just that: engage with and enjoy wilder camping experiences.

I am lucky enough from a young age to have been engaged in the outdoors, from family trips away, daily adventures with my brothers in the woods to a wonderful outdoor pursuits curriculum at school. All of these have shaped my understanding, appreciation and passion for outdoor spaces, and led me to study Outdoor Adventure Management at University and a career in leisure and outdoor pursuits.

It couldn’t have felt like the stars had aligned more when Tom and I had that moment of inspiration up in the hills.

For me, life is about chapters, and if you were to read a book on my life there would be one consistency which is the great outdoors.

A more recent chapter in my life is fatherhood, which I can safely say is far scarier than hanging 200 ft off a cliff or sitting 15m on a seabed wondering if you will have enough breath to get back to the surface!

The one thing that is clear to me is that the rewards I take from being a Dad are by far greater than any outdoor pursuit I have been on. To be able to see my daughter grow and flourish everyday is an amazing thing and I am truly thankful for the joy she brings to our lives.

We recently took a Trip to Dartmoor for a night’s Wild Camping and the experience as usual was one to remember. We took a short walk from our car (keeping it short removes the need for me to carry her at any point!), exploring woodland and open moor, dipping our toes in streams and negotiating which rocks are acceptable for her to climb.

We pitched our tent early in the evening, cooked up our food and got our warm clothes and sleeping bags ready. It’s amazing to see how intrigued a toddler can be with the moon and stars so we always hold off bedtime a little to ensure she can catch a glimpse before crawling into the tent for the night.

Every time I embark on an outdoor adventure with my daughter it reinforces the importance of creating time outdoors for her, to learn, play, develop and create wonderful memories for both of us.

For anyone considering wilder camping with children, my advice is to pack wisely – and light! – check your equipment before you leave home, prepare for the cold (even in the summer), try to keep some elements of routine for your child’s wellbeing, give them a small torch or headlamp for comfort, remain realistic for where you can go and for how long, and importantly, relax!

Take the time to set up camp together, enjoy nature and take in the peaceful surroundings. It will be worth it, I promise!

As a father I feel immense responsibility to help facilitate engagement with nature for my daughter. Camping – particularly wild camping – offers a rare chance to properly drop out of the rat race and keeps us grounded! Naturally, this is something Tom and I have wanted to introduce to our kids early doors, to set them up on the right path.

CampWild has been forged by a passion and has begun to carve a pathway of change, facilitating newfound experiences for everyone in nature with the aim to create a cascade of inspiration, education, and responsibility to safeguard the great outdoors for all of our children.”

Read more:

The rise of dadchelor parties

Life as a working father with an autistic son

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