Dirty Weekends

I’m sure there have been longitudinal studies on the beneficial nature of dirt, mud and dust on children.

Watch a beaming child sitting in the dirt off the side of a manicured lawn or squealing with delight as they churn through mud with bare feet and it is pretty clear that something elemental is taking place.

We have some absolute rippers here in WA; the pindan of the north gets into pores and clothing so deeply that it has been known to stain the soul.

The ‘silver loam’ or grey sand of the Swan coastal plain, South coast and South-West can turn impeccably turned out youngsters into grinning blackened monsters in no time flat.

Recently I camped in the Perth Hills with other members of the Nature Play WA family and one of the defining images was a cherubic three year old boy repeatedly getting up to a dead sprint before launching himself into a fairly handy swan dive full length into some deep sand.

Two young girls playing in dirt campingIt was a pretty infectious activity.

It wasn’t long before we had 11 kids in an advanced state of grubbiness.

This is, of course, the very definition of good, wholesome fun and the word ‘clean’ has no business being involved.

De-grubbifying prior to bed or the journey home is the secret to fully embracing a dirty weekend and there are a few options to take here.

The first is the tried and tested nanna approach; a bucket of warm water, velvet soap and a flannel. Use your car mats as a staging post if you don’t have a tarp and you may need a few water changes if facing an advanced grub level.

Wet wipes or baby wipes are a more modern, less sustainable approach that achieves a good depth of clean but not quite at the nanna level.

Kids feet with mudIf you are camped near a river or the ocean you don’t have an issue, throw the children in and let the big blue washing machine take care of things.

Insert children into the fresh clothes you have been saving as a last resort and head home secure in the knowledge that while the external manifestations of the dirty weekend are no longer visible the internal benefits will continue to flow long after you have left the campsite.


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