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Doing it for the kids…Camp Bestival 2009

Making the decision to help AGF and attend festivals for audits is not normally a dilemma but faced with taking my 13 month old daughter there was a lot to consider and plan for. Assigned with Camp Bestival credited for being super family friendly and the commitment of friends also with little ones we decided it was an adventure worth embarking on.

The site is a splendid spot. Set in the grounds of Lulworth Castle and on the rolling hills of beautiful green coastal Dorset we arrived to be greeted by friendly helpful security and stewards.

Traffic congestion for us was non-existent, queuing minimal and parking and unloading not a hassle. The car parks have been planned around the campsites meaning there isn’t far to travel with all your gear, and believe me there was a lot of gear. The ingenuity, resourceful and conscientious attitude of the Camp Bestival audience was evident from the outset: children and equipment transported in makeshift vehicles, fully equipped camps and some of the older kids sporting walkie-talkies.

With our camp setup, everyone fed and it practically bedtime for our children the boys got first dibs on a night out while the girls pooled resources and settled in for a few quiet glasses of wine. I’m truly astounded at how quiet the campsites were at night. It was one of my biggest worries. The organisers had allocated a separate campsite for non-family campers, avoided using noisy generators, the outdoor mainstage finished at a respectable midnight and the magic meadow ran until 3pm part featuring a fun schedule of silent disco between 12-3am. It made an incredible difference.

Loos and hygiene were nothing to be concerned about. There were loads of toilets, water taps, minimal queues, toilets were well maintained mostly with toilet roll and hand sanitiser available. Compost toilets at the campsite and the mainstage were popular and I was very pleased to see Camp Bestival taking on this greener initiative. After nightfall the toilets were policed by security discouraging people from relieving themselves anywhere except the toilets and urinals.

 

The festival site during the day was kept really clean. The whole site and recycling effort would have benefit from more bins, recycling and clearer signage. I’m certain that better signage and more recycling and waste bins would only encourage and educate an already considerate audience. The upside of promoting recycling to the younger members of the audience would reap long-term benefits for us all. At night it was a bit messier but by the morning it was cleared and I was very happy to let our baby romp about on the ground without worrying too much about cigarette butts, bottle tops or glass. When the time came to go home the bins were overflowing with waste and the campsites were clear of rubbish and nothing was left behind by campers.

There is room for Camp Bestival to improve sustainability and they have a lot on initiatives in production that I would expect to see next year. Car use is clearly a challenge taking into consideration the family audience and I think the festival would benefit from a deposit bag recycling waste scheme and supplying campers with biodegradable bags for rubbish and bags for sorting recyclables. They’re a conscientious bunch and this could only increase recycling and reduce waste at the event. There is a great range of local, fairtrade and organic traders as well as charitable organisations educating and promoting good causes.

We left Camp Bestival with a positive first family festival experience and many great memories. My overall experience of the festival was excellent and I was inspired and assured by the behaviour of the people I encountered. The children raved about Mr Tumble, facepainting, the farm, fancy dress, eating biscuits they’d decorated, dancing and camping. My highlights: introducing my little girl to live music, picnicing, DJ Yoda silent disco, Beardyman, Dub Pistols and a little taste of life before parenthood. It was hard work but totally worth it… we’re already planning next year.

Thanks Camp Bestival and greenerfestival.

Hel x