For the Yoof of Today – camping with teenagers
Possibly because I don’t possess any of my own, I am disproportionately fond of the Yoof of Today. It can’t be denied that they can occasionally be troublesome (commenting loudly on one’s arse in the street) and occasionally annoying (playing music on 'mobile phones' on the bus), but overall they remind me of my own days of yore. The door slamming, the rows, the first sampling of Buckfast and the crashing comatose through the front door…ah, memories. My parents, possibly, have less fond recollections.
So, to celebrate the country’s Yoof, and because I feel like gazing mistily down nostalgia lane to my own teen years (again, my parents possibly have different memories), here’s the Pitchup.com guide to camping with teenagers.
Pick your type of camping
This will obviously depend on what type of teenager you have. Some might chew your hand off to go wild camping where they can happily click on their console or – gasp – get through their pile of books while lying under a tree. Others will loftily refuse to go anywhere that isn’t luxury camping , five star or with a hot tub on each pitch.
While pitchside Jacuzzis aren’t (yet) available on Pitchup.com, you can look for luxury and five-star parks and narrow these down by location or other amenities/leisure on site, or look for glamping sites for teens who like tipis, yurts and wigwams . You might even get them into a static caravan if you point out that they often come with TV/Freeview.
Some top parks for teenagers:
Woolacombe Bay Holiday Village , Devon : Free Extreme Teens club with Wii wars, choreography workshops, sports tournaments, DJ training and a new circus school. Guests can also use the sister parks nearby: Twitchen House , Easewell Farm Holiday Park & Golf Club and Golden Coast Holiday Village .
Tattershall Lakes Country Park , Lincolnshire : Zorbing, banana rides, jetskiiing, sea battles, golf and fishing…and a spa and sauna for tired teens (and parents). There’s even a Canvas Village luxury tent, with proper beds and everything.
Okehampton Youth Hostel , Stithian Lakes Campsite (both Cornwall ) and Adventure Camping , Devon : Activity-packed sites with mountain boarding, gorge scrambling, watersports, archery and loads more.
Grannie’s Heilan’ Hame Holiday Park , Scottish Highlands : Freestyle Club for 10 – 15 year olds, adventure playground with zipwire, crazy golf and a sauna and spa for sophisicates.
Ten top holiday parks : Top parks for the summer, many with activities and clubs for tweens and teens.
Check your accommodation
Podding it? Make sure your accommodation will suit a gangly sixteen year old. Most camping pod parks mean ‘very small person’ when they say a pod is suitable for two adults and a child, so if there are two of you and one teenager it’s best to search for pods that can take three adults. Or get a cabin instead: look under ‘Onsite accommodation’ in the search box and tick ‘lodge, cabin, pod or hut’ to bring up all wooden options.
If you’re a single parent, or you’re going to another type of ‘there when you arrive’ park like ones with yurts, tipis, or wigwams, ignore this advice in the way that your teenager ignores your own sage musings.
‘It’s what’s inside that counts’ and ‘Of course you don’t have a mullet’ were well-meaning reassurances from my mum at various times in my teenage years, when I locked myself in the bathroom and refused to come out forevermore because surely no-one in the history of the entire, like, world had ever been so hideously ugly. However well-meaning, there is no point telling a self-conscious and spotty teen that this is camping, they’re roughing it and no-one will be looking at them anyway. They're self-conscious and they think they look like a cave troll.
Thusly, be kind. What might help: sites with electrical hook-up for tourers (hair straighteners are essential for many), showers , a launderette (teenagers told to rinse out their Best Top in a washing-up bowl will be Not Impressed), or anything else to keep the little darlings’ appearances and clothes tiptop – and check individual site listings for shower blocks with shaver points or hairdryers.
Check the postcode
Speaking of attraction, there are heaps of them all over the country which are designed for teenagers, and arranging a family hol around something like the Under-16s Drivers Experience at Mercedes-Benz World in Surrey might just have your teenagers actually wanting to come along. (If you’re holidaying with a younger member of the family as well as a teenager, we firmly state that the entertainment and attractions should be divided up equally, rather than expecting your fifteen year old to be merry and bright on a third day to Peppa Pig World.)
You can look for a campsite or caravan park on Pitchup.com by its proximity to any attraction: just enter the postcode into the search box on the homepage to find sites nearby within 5 – 60 miles. Or browse the 'leisure on site' or 'leisure nearby' filters to find stuff your teenager likes or might want on site:
Sites with horse-riding nearby
Sites with a surf school nearby and surfing within 15 miles
Sites near leisure/theme parks
Sites with mountain biking nearby
And, for the readers/gamers: peaceful sites
Internet, of course – search for sites with internet access , wifi and free wifi . (Here are sites with washing-up facilities too, just for lulz.)
Also, if you’re not on a site with charging facilities to facilitate those essential five daily calls to the beau back home, consider introducing teenagers to the anachronism known as the ‘ public telephone ’...