Over the summer, all across the country families will be building a fort in their house, camping out in their backyards or area campgrounds as part of the Great American Campout! Explore the wonderful world of camping with young children either as a family or in your classroom.
Join the Great American Campout and pitch a tent in your backyard. Play games, stargaze, and connect with each other and with nature. First time camping? Your backyard is a perfect place to start. It is familiar and close to bathrooms (and beds if needed!). Experienced campers? The backyard is still fun! Children love when the ordinary becomes extraordinary! Pitch a tent, build a campfire, and watch their eyes shine. The next family challenge is to explore nearby campgrounds for a family campout.
For the classroom:
It’s hard to take your entire classroom on a campout, but that’s okay! You can go pretend ‘camping’ in your schoolyard! Pitch a tent or tents, gather camping supplies and go camping for the day. If you can, have a campfire and roast marshmallows, make s’mores or hobo packs, sit around and tell stories. If you can’t have a real fire, build a pretend one to sit around and share stories. Ask kids to share if they have ever gone camping. What did they do? Where did they sleep? What did they eat? Talk about what camping is. Provide backpacks, binoculars, fishing poles (no hooks) and other camping gear and activities. Let their imaginations take them on a wonderful adventure!
Backyard camping ideas (backyard and schoolyard!):
Go on a scavenger hunt
Sing campfire songs
Watch for wildlife (what lives in your backyard? Schoolyard?)
Gaze at the stars
Watch the clouds
Make explorer walking sticks (cover part of the stick with doubled-sided tape, children can stick objects they find loose on the ground to it)
Helpful links from the National Wildlife Federation (there are more, these are our favorites)