I’m one of those privileged people known as dads and to be honest I love being a dad.
Recently I took my son camping on Dartmoor, in the middle of nowhere. He built a shelter out of wood and vegetation and did a rather excellent job of it, too. The plan was all along that he’d sleep in his self-built shelter, while I enjoyed a good night’s rest in the tent.
Other family commitments meant that we only got on to Dartmoor after 15h00, with a bit of a walk ahead of us still. Given that my son wanted to build a shelter limited the location of our camp site quite a bit, as we simply had to camp somewhere where there were materials to make a shelter out of. Those of you that know Dartmoor will realise that while it is hauntingly beautiful, it isn’t exactly overflowing with trees.
In the end we picked a spot a few miles away from Burrator reservoir, right on the edge of a pine forest, with plenty of old pieces of wood lying around. Sadly, while we had enough wood to form the basic structure of the shelter, the ferns we were going to use to cover it with grew half a mile from our chosen camp site.
Dartmoor being Dartmoor, with unpredictable weather and it’s own micro-climate, I put up the tent first, while my son gather suitable bits of wood. I wanted the tent up in case the weather turned a tad nasty, in which case we’d have a water-proof roof over our heads while also being sheltered from the wind.
In no time at all the tent was up, as well as the basic structure for the shelter.We decided on taking the easy way and the wood was secured using cotton rope.
My job as the official Gatherer-of-ferns needs no explanation, though I will say I never realised how heavy large armfuls of ferns could get after a while!
As I dropped one load of ferns, my son would cover the shelter and I’d head off to get some more.
Eventually, and comfortable before sunset, the shelter was finished! Believe it or not, but there are over 500 ferns on that shelter. He was rightly very proud of his work.
It had been raining in the build-up to our camping trip, so I knew it’d be hard to find dry wood, hence the disposable barbecue in the pic.
We also took a camping gas stove, on which we did all our cooking, and crucially boiled water for coffee! He absolutely loved his first proper camping trip!
This time round he wasn’t quite up to cycling out to wherever we would camp, but I told him we’d be cycling next time.
Surprisingly enough, he agreed to give it a go, although it will probably only happen next summer.
Like I always say, it’s great being a dad!