Great American Backyard Campout June 22

By CTD Suzanne published on in camping, Industry News, Outdoors

I remember spending many a summer night sleeping in a large, blue tent in the backyard of my childhood best friend’s house. Though we ran in and out of the house all evening for bathroom and Popsicle breaks, when it got dark, we crawled in the tent with our flashlights to play games and read. We didn’t need the TV, X-Box or Internet. We had the outdoors and lots of fireflies to catch.

Picture shows kids sitting around a campfire in the backyard

Every year the NWF plans a nationwide fund-raising event called the Great American Backyard Campout.

I spent my summers riding four-wheelers and horses, jumping off the rope swing at the local swimming hole, picking wild blackberries at the creek, playing softball, and many other fun adventures we dreamed up. Our one caveat? “Be home before dark.” Those times have changed, however.

I’m not sure why; some say it’s parents’ fears for their children’s safety, but kids don’t play outdoors anymore. In fact, children spend more than seven hours a day in front of an electronic screen. Indiana University East found, “By the time most children go to kindergarten, they have spent more than 5,000 hours in front of a television—enough time to earn a college degree.”

Children born after 1990 are being called Generation I. I standing for perhaps Generation Internet or Generation Indoors. It is negatively affecting our children, too. Childhood obesity, depression and ADHD rates have soared over the last decade. Experts have found that children who spend unstructured time outdoors have better attention spans, decreased aggression, enhanced creativity, and do better in school.

The National Wildlife Federation has found a way to help solve this problem by establishing the Be Out There campaign that encourages children to spend more time outdoors. The conservation organization has a three-year goal to get 10 million children outside. On the NWF’s website, you can sign a pledge saying you will do your part to get your children outside.

As part of their effort, every year the NWF plans a nationwide fund-raising event called the Great American Backyard Campout. This year, the ninth annual event will be on Saturday, June 22. The activity works much like a charity walk event. You create a camping team, register your team on the Great American Backyard Campout site and then raise money to go toward the NWF’s Be Out There program. Eighty cents of every dollar raised goes toward establishing and maintaining programs dedicated to getting children outside. You don’t have to fundraise to participate; the organization suggests a $10 flat donation.

Two girls are roasting marshmallows in front of a tent.

Experts have found that children who spend unstructured time outdoors do better in school.

Fun things to do while camping:

  • Fishing
  • Swimming
  • Geocaching
  • Learn wilderness survival skills
  • Bird and wildlife observation
  • Hiking
  • Storytelling
  • Eating S’Mores!

If you would like to venture out further than the backyard, check out freecampsites.net. The website will help you find free and discounted campgrounds.

Why not take your family camping this year, even if it is just in the backyard?

For more about camping, read the following blog posts:

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Comments (7)

  • Bill from Boomhower, Texas

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    Sorry Suzzane, my mistake. I thought I had commented, but I never actually did. I was an only child, and grew up in the country, my dad working nights. So for me, those early campouts consisted of me using 2 man military type, heavy canvas pup tents, the quality of which I haven’t seen since. My dad had a first name basis relationship withe everone who worked at every Manning’s Discount store in Ft Worth, I think. I’d pitch one of those high quality tentgs somewhere on the 2 1/2 acre Ponderosa, I grew up on, and at an early age, would use my dads carbide lanterns to go frog giggng the local ponds at night. He had a gig that would grab ‘em, in stead of stick ‘em. That way you could release the smaller ones, if you wanted. I still have them. I’d use my dad’s old Weaver Spotting Scope, and lay on the hood of a ’53 Plymouth Cranbrook, and tudy the moon and stars most of the night, then eat snacks, and dose off, inhaling the intoxicating fumes of gun oil, and waterproofed canvas, sleeping very well in an Army mummy bag, which had a military smell all it’s own. I had a Remington single shot .22, which my parents bought me, but wouldn’t buy ammo for, so I had a few cans of .com22 blanks. Which wer the same length as a short. As long as I held the end of the barrel inclined, I could put half a dozen BBs down the bore, and shoot clean thru a wooden cabbage crate at about 40 yds with nominal holdover. Being an only child, I guess I was kind of a self starter. Then, I discovered that my neighbor’s dad who ran trotlines, would pay a penny each for crawdads, and 2 cents each for the really big ones. My dad bent heavy steal rod into a hoop, hose clamped it to a long mop handle, threaded a large replacement dip net to it,(from Manning’s), and I’d take a bucket on my bike, and make the circuit. Every farm pond I could find became my claim. I’d start at one spot, and reach out as far as I could, then drag it back along the bottom quiclky. I’d move over just the width of the net, and go again, filling my bucket with crawdads. When I’d been all the way around the pond, I’d arrive at the initial wet spot where I’d begun. Quite an enterprize for a young only child, who had a buyer. The final straw, was when I found a whole roll of those little round price stickers, about an inch across in white. My dad had a ’50 Chevy delivery, which happened to be black. It made a stiking contrast I thought, to arrange those white dots on the windowless panel sides, to read;”Bill’s Crawdads”. Yeah, he was pissed, but much like a lifetime of hunting and outdoor adventures, childhood holds some fond memories, huh? Some of that glue never did come off.

    Reply

  • CTDSuzanne

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    Bill,
    Thank you for sharing. I can just picture a young Bill plastering those stickers all over his daddy’s truck. That makes me laugh out loud.
    Times have changed, haven’t they? More kids need experiences like yours.

    Reply

  • Dave Bushong

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    Great idea! It also happens to be the weekend (this year) of the ARRL Field Day exercise by amateur radio operators. A lot of what you are talking about is part of this event also. We camp, we operate on emergency power, and practice for natural and man-made disasters. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Field_Day_(amateur_radio) or Google local radio clubs. In my experience, a very high percentage of ham operators are gun owners (or at least gun-friendly) – probably because it’s a group of people who do things for themselves instead of waiting for someone to do it for them (this is my definition of a conservative vs. liberal by the way). This year, my radio club will be set up at one of the local gun clubs, of all places!

    Reply

  • petey raymond

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    Bill, enjoyed the story about your childhood. I used to make money collecting old pop bottles back when you could get 2 cents for an empty bottle. Today, some kids think they’re being enterprising if they sell half of their bag of weed.

    Reply

  • petey raymond

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    Bill, enjoyed the story about your childhood. I used to make money collecting old pop bottles back when you could get 2 cents for an empty bottle. Today, some kids think they’re being enterprising if they sell half of their bag of weed.

    Reply

  • Bill from Boomhower, Texas

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    Oh Petey, I remember those days! You’d go into the sore, and get a cart, maybe two or three, and take back to the Family Truckster, and load ‘em up. Then, see the frown on the faces of Checkers, as they see you dragging all that into the store. You’d always have to sign a little scrap of paper with the amount on it, then wait, while they counted the money out in your hand. Then, off to the toy store!
    And Dave, I have a spsre room full of CB radios & gear, and an old Kenwood TR-7400A with no mic, and a Ringo up on the roof, which I only listen to. Real handy, and a comforting neccessity, when the storms roll in. I keep saying, if all my dis-functional friends can pass the test, perhaps I should at least try. Somewhere around here, I have the study guide I bought, but I keep procrastinating.

    Reply

  • Bill from Boomhower, Texas

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    And Dave, I have the EZ-up, the compact folding table&chairs, the power supllies etc, for Field Day too. That’s like camping out in itself.

    Reply

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