Ideas, tips & resources for backyard campers
The Great Backyard Campout
Summer Holidays 2020 – 21
The summer holidays are all about enjoying the freedom of getting outdoors with family and friends. And while the nights are warm and the stars are beaming in cloudless skies, why not join in The Great Backyard Campout!
The Great Backyard Campout will be running all summer school holidays and it’s easy to take part. All you need to do is roll out the swag, pitch the tent, or create your own glamping extravaganza in your outdoor space and enjoy a night outdoors.
You can play board games by torchlight, tell stories, stargaze, cook, and even roast marshmallows!
If you’re feeling extra brave, why not set up camp in your front garden. And if you don’t have an outdoor space or you’re not comfortable sleeping outdoors, that’s OK, just set up your ‘campsite’ in the living room!
Be sure to join the Nature Play QLD Facebook Group so we know how big our Backyard Campout is and then share your photos and videos of your Great Backyard Campout. You can also share with us through social media using #greatbackyardcampout and #natureplayqld to inspire other families to get out while staying in!
With access to parks and campsites across the country somewhat restricted, it may seem like a family camping trip is entirely out of the question. While it may not be possible to pack up the car and head to your favorite national park, that doesn’t mean you still can’t enjoy some time in the outdoors. In fact, a backyard campout is a time-honored tradition …
So, what is backyard camping?
Exactly what it sounds like – camping in your backyard! All you need is a tent, sleeping bags, and plenty of imagination to turn your own garden into the perfect spot for a camping adventure. (And if the weather turns nasty you can head back indoors quickly!)
Here are some great ideas on how you can go on camping trip in your own backyard, on the balcony or even in your living room!.
Gather your household and make a list of what resources you will need for your camp out. Pack your camping bag, roll up the swag and get ready for an awesome trip!
What do you need for backyard camping?
To make your backyard adventure as good as it can be, check out this basic backyard camping checklist to get you started
- Shelter – make sure it is suitable for the number of people and the weather!
- Bedding – think comfort and warmth, check the weather report.
- Light – torches, headlamps or lanterns?
- Cooking – stoves or campfire?
- Fun & games
There are lots of optional items you can bring when camping in the backyard – air mattresses, insect repellent, first aid kit and a good book to name a few. Check out this simple list.
If people sat outside and looked at the stars each night,
I’ll bet they’d live a lot differently. (Calvin & Hobbes, Bill Watterson)
Set up the tent!
If you don’t have a tent or swag you may wish to design a shelter using a tarp, large sticks or even a bedsheet. This is the time to get creative and make something glorious – whether it’s in the backyard or the living room!
Tip: If you are lucky enough to have a tent, remember not to use long tent pegs so you don’t damage any utilities that may be running underground. Shorter ones are easy to get hold of from your local camping store.
Campfire Cook Up
Do some research and plan your camping menu together (e.g. veggie kebabs, damper, some toasty jaffles). Check out some of these great Camp Cooking and Recipes ideas, like this tasty looking Damper!
If you don’t have a perfect backyard cooking spot set up or a BBQ, you can always have a good old singalong around the stove before you take dinner out to the campsite.
Why not read Aussie favourite ‘Wombat Stew’ together and plan your own stewy dinner recipe?
Things to do ...
Learn some simple camp knots together as a family. Some examples to get your started could be a reef knot, clove hitch, and square lashing. Here is some guidance in the Forest School Leader’s portfolio and here on our Get Knotted page.
No camping adventure is complete without a really good singalong, and with a bit of creativity you could even roast some marshmallows, while being fire safety heroes! The kitchen stove is always a great option – but if you do have an outdoor BBQ or a safe pre-established fire area like a contained firepit, just make sure you have a water supply nearby and keep little hands a safe distance away. Adults should be supervising at all times and please consider your lovely neighbours when planning the location in relation to smoke. For more campfire advice visit the Rural Fire Brigade
You could instead build a role play campfire from loose part items found in the backyard, or from around the house such as toilet rolls, cardboard boxes or pieces of material. Let your imagination run wild!
If you can’t build a real fire, maybe you can use this virtual campfire instead!
Click here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SKaIkbgyhU8
If you need some inspiration for some campfire songs, Jump Up Outdoors has some great options that can get you started.
In some indigenous Australian music, two sticks struck together form a beat that can accompany the didgeridoo. Whether you tap together two unsharpened pencils or take a nature walk to retrieve two perfect sticks, these simple clapsticks can keep a beat while you sing or play along to any your favorite songs.
If you want to decorate your clapsticks with an Australian theme, you can use a dot motif. In the activity below you can find step-by-step directions for making several different versions of crafty “dot” bilma.’ http://www.tinytappingtoes.com/classroom-music/explore-australian-instruments-with-your-child/
Gather together some of your favourite campfire stories. Here are some popular choices from the Nature Play QLD team:
- Boris Goes Camping – Carrie Weston
- Snugglepot and Cuddlepie’s Sleepover Gumnut Babies -May Gibbs
- Curious George Goes Camping – Margret Rey
- Just Camping Out – Mercer Mayer
And a good ghost story always works well for the grownups!
Sleeping Bag Race
Adapt the classic potato sack race and use your sleeping bags instead. Ready, set, go!
Create your own dream catcher to hang up during your camp-out. Here are a few beautiful examples you may like to try: https://mothernatured.com/nature-crafts/nature-dreamcatcher-craft/
Boil some eggs in a billy can while you sing Waltzing Matilda. Then get the spoons out for an ‘Egg and Spoon’ race! You can even paint your eggs in your favourite colours and patterns – a great idea to keep the kids busy and the adults can get involved too.
Blind Man’s Bluff
A bit of nostalgia for the adults. Have a game of Blind Man’s Bluff around the backyard. Just tie a blindfold or piece of fabric over someone’s eyes and see who they can catch first. Make it easier for the smaller ‘blind men’ by calling out warmer or colder as they get closer (or not so close).
There are so many options for games around a campsite, you could try making up your own to involve the whole family or use some of the ideas from Jump Up Outdoors. These are great for the whole family but can be adapted very well for an adults’ game. Does anyone remember Truth or Dare?
More tips & resources
Has there ever been a better time to go backyard camping? Weeks spent at home with no kind of getaway in sight and tensions running high will take its toll on even the most resilient people. So, as absurd as it may sound, planning (and carrying out!) a backyard camping trip is something you absolutely should consider.
Source: Cool of the Wild
Giving your kids a sense of wonder and excitement about camping and the great outdoors when they’re still young is key to developing a lifetime love of nature. But sometimes it’s hard enough to get them out the door for school in the morning, let alone into the woods for an extended weekend.
The solution? Backyard camping. It’s a great way to break out the gear and let them fall in love with camping without needing weeks of preparation (or extra batteries for the nightlight).
Source: 50 Campfires
Whether it’s inclement weather, a national park or campground closure or some kind of other unforeseen emergency – whatever the situation is, your meticulously planned family holiday is now in a shambles. But, that doesn’t have to be the end of your getaway. If you’ve got a decent yard, then why not take your holiday to your backyard?
At the end of the day, it’s the experience kids often love more than the location, so why not get them outside in a different way. It requires a portion of the organisation and planning of a trip away from home plus, there are no travel times to get there.
A backyard camping trip can be a lot more fun than the real thing with our camping ideas.
Are you craving some time outside? So are we! In the springtime, Berty and I always get antsy to break out our camping gear and breathe in that fresh, dewy, Pacific Northwest air.
We can already imagine unzipping the tent in the morning, pouring a steaming mug of coffee in our thermos, and sitting around the campfire swapping stories of our dreams from the night before. Can you imagine it, too? Read on …
Source: The Mandagies
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