“Adopt the pace of nature: her secret is patience.”
― Ralph Waldo Emerson
This Saturday, June 25, 2016, the National Wildlife Federation (NWF) is encouraging all of us to slow down and reconnect with Mother Nature by camping out. Here’s some information from the NWF’s website: http://www.nwf.org/Great-American-Campout.aspx
“National Wildlife Federation’s Great American Campout is also part of Great Outdoors Month® in June, a month designated to highlight the many kinds of outdoor activities that strengthen our bonds with nature. NWF celebrates everyone who’s getting outdoors and camping on Great American Campout day on June 25th – and we encourage you to re-live the camping experience all summer long.”
The event was called the Great Backyard Campout until recently. The NWF felt the event deserved a title that included wilderness campers. We still love the idea of a campout in the backyard (or even on the deck or patio). Camping close to home is an opportunity for new adventurers to sleep in a tent outdoors.
Keep it real
A simple tent will do. You don’t have to buy new or really expensive, complex equipment for a backyard bivouac. A sleeping bag and a pop-up tent is all you need. Add a yoga mat or sleeping rolls if you need more padding for comfort.
Sandwiches and s’mores plus some cereal for breakfast gets the job done for meals. Pack them up and bring them out with you, as a campout usually means you carry all your supplies in one trip, just as you would if you were to hike to a woodland spot. Of course, if this is just an introduction to camping for your kids, you don’t need to simulate every bit of the wilderness experience to the letter. One thing that might be a good idea, though: leave your cell phone in the house, or at least turn off all social media accounts. Some apps are allowed (see below).
“If I ever go looking for my heart’s desire again, I won’t look any further than my own back yard. Because if it isn’t there, I never really lost it to begin with.”
― L. Frank Baum, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz
Adventure is in the details
A whole world exists in your backyard (and in your neighborhood if you want to wander out a bit for a “hike”). Grab a magnifying glass and search for 4-leaf clovers. Grab a “Field Notes” book and record each insect as a new world explorer would, with a hand drawing and a detailed description. The Audubon Society has an app to use to help identify different species of insects and spiders. http://www.audubonguides.com/field-guides/insects-spiders-nature-app.html Bird-watching and identification is also a great way to appreciate the fauna of your backyard. A pair of binoculars and some patience will bring big rewards. The Audubon society also offers a bird watching app. See the list of their apps here. http://www.audubon.org/apps.
When the night comes, a telescope is an adventure in itself. No telescope? No problem. StarTracker Lite is a free phone app that holds a real-time global map of the constellations. Hold your phone up to the sky to get the constellation drawings and the names of the major stars you’re seeing.
Wrap up the night with some games like ghost tag or 20 Questions. Melt some s’mores over the fire pit. Get in your pjs and sleep soundly knowing you don’t have to trek up mountains to feel at home with Mother Nature.