With thanks to guest blogger Janelle Boynton of Feathertop Family Adventures.
Think back to your time as a kid on holidays and it’s likely fond memories of meeting new friends will come flooding back. From riding bikes for hours, playing Frisbee until you could no longer see it, or simply laughing and telling jokes, these activities are likely to be at the heart of some of the happiest times of your childhood.
The ability to meet new friends with such ease is one of the greatest things about visiting a holiday park. The many shared areas of a BIG4 park – such as splash parks, play areas, and camp kitchens – make it easy to strike up a conversation and connect with fellow travellers.
For children, it is important and rewarding for them to socialise and meet new people. It provides them with confidence and a new perspective. Just as important, it greatly enhances the fun of their holiday.
Children tend to have a habit of breaking the ice quite easily, but I thought I’d share my thoughts about what I do as a parent – and used to do as a child – to ensure my children easily make friends when at holiday parks.
Encourage your children to take their own tour
As a kid, I remember arriving at the park and immediately taking the 'caravan park self-guided tour'. The aim of this was to see who was around and who could become my new bestie. In my day, it was all about dragster bikes, elastics, and hopscotch. Nowadays, it is scooters, down ball, and jumping pillows, but the principles are the same.
When we arrive at a BIG4 park, while we are checking in, we encourage our kids to jump out, stretch their legs, do a lap of the park, and see what they can find. Previously, we found if we didn’t send the kids out on arrival it was easy for them to settle in to grabbing a device or turning on the TV. Sometimes we asked the kids to help set up, but we believe it’s critical for the kids to meet friends on the first day or night.
Mirroring my memories
I have many fond memories of this time as a child, and it has been beautiful to watch our own children playing British bulldog, poison ball, and after-dark touch tiggy, checking in at the van every half-hour as they run past with sweat running down their red faces.
Holiday parks are like neighbourhoods
If you stay in a motel or an apartment, this type of interaction just does not happen. I find myself reluctant to let my kids roam free when at a motel, as there are lots of buildings and unknown areas.
In a caravan park it is all very open, and you can hear your kids and they can hear you. In a nutshell, BIG4 Holiday Parks remind me of the rural streets I grew up with – open and fun and where you can share bikes, balls, and treats, and meet everyone’s parents.
The end result…
What do we hear from our kids at every park, without fail? “I don’t want to leave, Mum. I have so many friends here.”
Yep, every time it happens you feel bad, as you think your children will never find a group of kids like this one again. But guess what? They do! And you will hear the same line again at the next park.
Stay in touch
When making new friends throughout your travels, it’s nice to stay in touch. I remember travelling at the same age as my children, and the relationships you make carry on far beyond the park stay. But things have come a long way from the little address book I used to carry with me 30 years ago.
Now, I watch the kids transfer email addresses and social media handles. When we left our home our children didn't have any social media use, but I have to say we allowed them to join Instagram. To my delight, the kids have really enjoyed saying in touch with their new friends and sharing travel stories (even one of me snoring in the caravan!).
With a little effort, lifelong friendships can be formed while on holidays. Start making your own holiday memories today with BIG4.