A night in the great outdoors

I’ve been on lots of camping adventures in my life and anyone who knows me will know the majority of my stories come from those nights in the wild...or my backgarden.

Growing up, summer nights were the best opportunity to camp in our garden with lots of other kids from the neighbourhood. Ghost stories, shadow puppets, lots of snacks and the promise of staying up just a little bit later than usual added to the excitement. Setting up the camp was a particularly enjoyable event as it required imagination and a lot of furious debate about where each person would sleep and which board-games to bring. We experimented with all sorts of structures including conventional tents, a makeshift tepee that didn’t hold up in the wind and the rain, and even a bed sheet thrown over a washing line attached to two trees.

The joys of camping have stayed with me and I continue to look forward to the warmer months and the chance to see somewhere new.

I find the drama of camping exciting too, like the moment you discover you forgot to pack tent poles and have to jury-rig a system to keep your tent up and the contents dry on a rainy day, or when someone (ahem) leaves the food behind and the nearest shop is miles away. Although it may not be funny at the time, the decision to stick it out, despite discomfort, is what makes it an experience to remember.

One of my favourite moments, no matter where you are camping, is when there’s a pause in conversation and you tune in to the sounds of the world around you. The hoot of an owl, flurry of bats in nearby trees, chirp of crickets or rustle of a hedgehog are amplified and you realise just how many wonderful creatures are sharing their home with you.

This August 9-11, we have a brilliant and rare opportunity to learn more about the nightime wildlife on our reserves and in our gardens thanks to the first annual Big Wild Sleepout! There are lots of events happening across the country. On August 10th an exciting camping adventure awaits at the Rosemarkie campsite on the Black Isle, complete with tour of our nearby Fairy Glen nature reserve, onsite catering, storytelling and even a morning tai chi session on the beach (my kind of camping!).

If you are closer to Loch Lomond, spend the night at the Lagganbeg Holiday Park and enjoy an exciting opportunity to discover the fantastic wildlife at our nearby Loch Lomond nature reserve. BBQ facilities, tours, storytelling and much more will be on offer. A real experience to remember.

To find out more about The Big Wild Sleepout visit the website: http://www.rspb.org.uk/thingstodo/sleepout/. Hope to hear about your camping adventures in the coming weeks!