June 25 is National Wildlife Federation’s Great American Backyard Campout day. Thousands of moms, dads, kids, grandparents, and caregivers will be pitching tents and rolling out sleeping bags on Saturday night!
Getting Kids In Touch With Nature
Camping, even for just a night in a backyard, is of course a great way to put children in touch with nature. Numerous studies reveal that children who grow up to care about nature and the environment almost alway had someone in their lives who introduced them to nature as a child. Introducing a child to the outdoors can create a commitment to nature that lasts a lifetime.
If you have a backyard, pitch a tent there; if there’s a patio, sleep there. This can be extra fun to do with friends or neighbors. Now, what do you hear? Owls? Crickets? Frogs? Small animals searching for food? The howl of a coyote?
Have Fun Outside!
Here are a few more ideas for what to do outside, supplied by the National Wildlife Federation:
Build a Fire: But of course! If you are in an area that allows you to build a fire, do so. Let the kids help, collecting kindling and other wood, and show them how it is done, starting with the flaming of small twigs and fluff and building with larger pieces of wood.
Fish: If you are near a lake or pond, consider a little night fishing. Some fish are attracted to light. Put up a lantern near shore or hang one on your boat as you sit in one place. Kids may find a boat confining, especially at night, but for older children a nightfishing trip—pulling the thrashing catch from the foam of dark waters—will be a camping memory not soon forgotten.
Bug Watch: You can use a light to attract insects and see what comes in. In fact, if you have a camp light, you probably will attract insects like it or not. So make a game of it. Put up a white sheet between trees and shine a light on it. Insects will land on the sheet, and you can use field guides to identify them.
Stargaze: Tradition says that ancient shepherds lay out with their flocks at night and watched the myriad glittering stars, passing the time by picking out images among the stars, like Orion the Hunter or the Big Dipper. But naming constellations doesn’t have to end with ancient shepherds, for whom the sky was a sort of celestial video game. The sky at night can be spectacular, awe-inspiring, and humbling.
Whatever you do, have fun during your Great American Backyard Campout!
Photo Credit: makelessnoise via Creative Commons