For the love of camping…..

Cornwall. The smell of cow pat and countryside. Rock pools and rain. Camping. Some of my first childhood memories are from holidays spent under canvas on the Cornish coast. My mother, brother and our elderly staffordshire bull terrier all squeezed into a small 2 man tent (my father chose not to spend his annual leave on such holidays!). Our tent was the old fashioned type with a metal pole on the inside at the head and the foot, which the poor person in the middle had distort themselves to avoid, aka me, and the separate fly sheet had to be carefully pegged down, and re-pegged several times a night, to avoid the inner sheet getting wet and subsequently all the tent’s contents. I have fond memories of those holidays, and the fact that I have been an avid fan of camping ever since shouts volumes for how much I clearly enjoyed those family holidays.

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Jon Elkon: martial artist, teacher, author and general all-round zen guy discusses the benefits of martial arts for kids. Kids Beating up Kids – good idea?

Definitely not! So why do so many parents insist on their little ones getting suited up in arcane Japanese/Brazilian canvas, and running off to one of the thousands of martial arts clubs in the UK? The cynical suspicion that it’s a great way to tire them out for the day so mummy and daddy can catch their breath and go around Waitrose in relative peace is attractive. And sometimes true.

But frankly there are tremendous benefits for the kid in engaging in disciplined, directed activities which, while usually disguised as miming inflicting terrible injuries or death to an attacker, are nothing of the sort. Karate, for example, is entirely about learning self-control and confidence. It teaches concentration, and above all the ability to channel and direct our power and, let’s face it, testosterone into a comparatively harmless activity. Brazilian Jiu-jitsu too, a recent newcomer to the martial arts family in the UK has grown into a massively popular art for adults and children.

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Family Jiu Jitsu

As a parent of 3 kids (ages 11,7 and 4) it can often be tricky to find something that we all enjoy doing together. The eldest is on the cusp of thinking he’s pretty grown up (most days), and the youngest has only just started school. One boy, 2 girls, and again you can run into problems with activities that they can all happily engage in.

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