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The Big Kent Camp

PUBLISHED: 14:38 11 July 2015

Children playing with a den

Children playing with a den

©National Trust Images/John Millar

This summer, for one night only, you can pitch your tent in one of Kent's fantastic National Trust-owned locations

With castles, orchards, stunning stately homes, famous historical faces and acres of ancient woodland, the National Trust is home to some of the best places for a family day out. But this summer, the Trust’s grounds, gardens and forests are being thrown open for a ‘one-night only’ chance to pitch your tent somewhere truly special.

Tina Cook is very excited about the Big Camp. As programme manager for Land, Outdoors and Nature, her remit is to get people of all ages interested in the great outdoors. And what better way than encouraging them to spend a night in the open air, getting close to nature?

Although spaces for the Big Camp on 18 July are booking up fast, Tina is keen to spread the message that camping in the countryside is fun for families of all ages.

The Big Camp came into being following research published by the National Trust in 2012 on children’s exposure to nature.

Tina says: “Our Natural Childhood report revealed that children today have fewer opportunities for contact with nature than previous generations. They come up against all kinds of different distractions, from technology to increasing pressure from school. If this continues, we’ll end up with an adult population who have no memories of childhood days spent outdoors, little empathy with the outside world and a poor understanding of the need to protect and preserve nature for the future.”

The Big Camp is one way the charity, which cares for a whopping 600,000 acres of countryside and 775 miles of coast across the UK, seeks to address these challenges.

In the south east, 23 place are taking part, with three in Kent: Sissinghurst Castle Garden, Emmetts Garden and Scotney Castle (Scotney Castle is already sold out).

Activities range from den building, bug hunting, storytelling and star gazing to sporting activities, ranger-led evening walks, dragonfly spotting and live music.

Morning, campers

Tina has useful advice for those joining the Big Camp this month. “First of all, turn your attention to your kit. The tent is the most important thing to get right, along with your sleeping bag. Make sure it can withstand the predicted weather conditions and is large enough for your needs. Good quality is important; this is not a time to cut corners.

Other useful camping equipment includes a head torch with spare batteries, a first aid kit, Swiss army knife, water bottle and food and drink. Bring plenty of spare clothing, but again, keep it light so it is easier to carry to and from your tent.

Always respect your surroundings and leave the site as you found it, taking your rubbish with you. Above all, have fun!”

FIND OUT MORE

Emmetts Garden

Saturday 18 July 5pm to Sunday 19 July 10am

Spend the night camping in the meadow area at Emmetts Gardens - one of the highest spots in Kent. Enjoy an evening stroll around the garden, enjoy the sun as it sets over the Weald of Kent, identify moths with our team and see why Emmetts Garden is one of the best places to star-gaze in the county.

● Tickets £10 per adult and £5 per child. Catering not provided so please remember to pack a picnic or dine at one of the local pubs. The tea-room will be open from 9am serving hot drinks and breakfast snacks. Booking essential on 0844 249 1895

Sissinghurst Castle Garden

Saturday 18 July 11am to Sunday 19 July 11am

Taking place in the orchard, join the Big Camp at Sissinghurst Castle Garden for a night of bug-hunting, star-gazing, storytelling, live music and outdoor fun There’ll be giant games and sports in the evening, as well as a lantern walk around the lakes. For early risers on Sunday morning, join the rangers to identify moths whilst taking in the sunrise across the estate.

● Tickets £25 per adult and £15 per child, including a hot breakfast from the restaurant on Sunday morning. Campers should bring their own food and refreshments for Saturday. Booking essential on 0844 249 1895.

To book a place at the Big Camp, or to discover more about events taking place across Kent and the south east this summer, please visit the National Trust’s website at www.nationaltrust.org.uk/southeast.

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