Last weekend you might have found Ramona and I sitting in a tiny big top, watching a shadow puppet ghost show run by a mum and her two daughters, complete with piano accordion accompaniment and tap dancing. Or you might have found us capering about to a cover of Ice Ice Baby done by a skiffle band. Or making mud gargoles to stick on a collective mud mural. Or you might have spotted Tim, dressed as a giant croc getting started on by a giant tiger…
Because, OBVIOUSLY, we were at Camp Bestival. The only place you can hope to do all these sweet/ absurd things.
This year I attended partly as a blogger, intending to write about it, and partly as an artist.
I jest, I jest. That would be my dream. Getting my proper super duper weirdo moves on in front of 30,000 people wearing 4 metre gold wings. HELLO.
In actual fact I took the stage in a bit more of a sit-downy fashion at the Guardian Literary Institute being interviewed by the (hilarious and brilliant) Scummy Mummies about my book Happy Hair (no golden wings but I did wear sequined hot pants.) It was so, so much fun and definitely a massive highlight for me and my book!
Camp Bestival also provided exactly the thing I needed for my next book; a ginormous dollop of motivation! This year Camp Bestival was all about being wild, which, perfectly, is exactly what my next book is about. A thirty day guide to rewilding our families, due out within the next 30 days. (Hehe.) That word rewilding is something I am really delving into. It speaks of restoring a part of us that has been lost, our wild selves. I think you are going to LOVE it. Eeek, I have the biggest smile on my face just thinking about all these inspiring little stories in it… gah…. I so want to tell you more but I think I should save it for when it comes out… *internal struggle*
Let me crack on with a few of the things Camp Bestival inspired me about, when it comes to rewilding….
Many kids want time in the wild more than anything else
One of the most loved parts of Camp Bestival is the Dingly Dell- a collaboration between nature and artists. There are nature walks and activities, forest crafts to make and conservation knowledge to learn. Mostly there is mud. And where there is mud, children are happy. On Sunday afternoon we spent 4 HOURS playing in mud, along with a hundred other families also playing in mud. We had a mud tea party and made mud sculptures and some children covered their whole bodies in mud and others managed to make mud pies without getting any on their hands at all. It is funny that at a festival where there is every delight a child might possibly fancy, it is this muddy haven that remains the most captivating.
Here is a little video I made in the Dingly Dell – can I tempt you with a, erm, cake? A mud cake?
Native english moths and primates are basically twins
Talking with one or two of the organisations present (WWF and Wild Futures specifically) it became clear just how related the insects in our gardens are to those rare primates that are on the brink. Both are in decline as a result of human activity, and both can be restored if we take our role seriously and if children fall in love with nature. It is absolutely true that saving the world’s wildlife begins in our backyard. (More in the book!)
Nature has the power to suspend our cynicism
One of the most inspiring conversations I had over the weekend was with a chap from a little organisation that runs holiday camps for children, run by teenage volunteers. He was sharing story after story of how too cool-for-school teens came along to camp, who, by the end of it, had their stony facade broken down and were trusting themselves, and others, and nature again. Seeing the magic. Finding the space simply to be. He told me how on Saturday night a few of the teenagers ditched the Kaiser Chiefs and came to the Dingly Dell and simply sat in the dark, under the stars, weaving nettle braids.
We all want to secretly embrace our wild side
There are three things I love about Camp Bestival. Firstly, seeing families rocking out together. I love it. Teenage boys raving with their mums. Daddies and daughters busting their moves to Ella Eyre (who was one of the absolute stars of the weekend, as well as Crazy old Arthur Brown.) I actually get emosh seeing families dancing together. (Bit strange, I realise.) I also love the thought put into the festival creative- incredible installations and artwork everywhere you look. Finally, I love how people throw themselves into letting go – mostly in terms of dressing up. The amount of mums who had quite obviously said YES to their kids painting a rubbish animal mask on their face. Hilar. And onesies, and ears and tales and sparkles. No one really trying to look good, but everyone just embracing this little wild part of themselves, the bit that we normally kind of repress in order to stay sane on the daily commute. Hehehe. So great.
The wild can transform us
I spent a lot of the weekend interviewing people from different projects and was overwhelmed by the stories people were sharing of how nature has transformed someone’s life. From the 3 year old preschooler who got a huge boost of self confidence from learning bushcraft, to the teacher who found a vocation in helping people see themselves as pivotal to the thriving of wildlife. I had a book partly written about the power of nature, and now I have one bustling with actual real life stories of it. So, so incredible.
So, yep, there goes Camp Bestival being legendary again! (If you want more Camp Bestival goodness do check out 76Sunflowers– who took the above picture of me and the Scummy Mummies- Mammasaurus, Kate Takes 5 and a whole bunch of official Camp B Bloggers.)
The only downside to it really was that I think it has grown up a bit quickly – it is like the adolescent boy who had a growth spurt and now his trousers bash his ankles, revealing mismatched socks. On the Saturday afternoon the kid’s garden was utterly rammed and it was actually hard to move around. I hope they consider capping numbers or expanding the venue for another year. And, of course, the cost… it is absolutely stuffed with value, and worth every penny…. but still, I can’t help but feel a bit bummed about how prohibitive the ticket prices are, and the potential for things like this to become a middle class love in. So far it hasn’t, there is no rich-kid vibe at all. But perhaps for next year they can release the first 20,000 tickets at half price to bonafide socialists or something? Hehe.
Let me leave you with another video – a day in the life at Camp Bestival – see how many Ninja Dinos you can spot…
Have you been to a great family festival this year? Would love to hear from you, and any thoughts you have about rewilding…