We thank you all so much for taking part in the Great Backyard Campout!
More than 1000 families joined us for a great night in, and we had hundreds of pictures and videos of your adventures shared with us! Here is just a small selection of them:
The Great Backyard Campout
There’s never been a better time to enjoy the great outdoors at home!
Nature Play WA is calling on WA families to make April 18 the world’s biggest backyard campout from the COVID-19 safe surrounds of your own home!
It is a WA tradition to hit your favourite camping spot during the April school holidays, but this year it’s important we follow government advice and stay put so that we can beat this virus together.
But that doesn’t mean you can’t bust out the camping kit and have a ball camping at home. Let’s turn the COVID-19 restrictions into a chance to make memories as families and as a community.
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, star gaze, cook on your barbecue and roast marshmallows over your fire pit if you have one.
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 our Facebook Event so we know how big our Backyard Campout is and then share your photos and videos of your Great Backyard Campout with us through social media using #greatbackyardcampout and #natureplaywa to inspire other families to get out while staying in!
Don't sweat the small stuff
It is important to do the right thing and follow the social-distancing rules during the COVID-19 restrictions, but that doesn’t mean we can’t have fun. To break the hum drum of being at home so much, why not give your family a leave pass on some of the things you’d normally be strict on – just for a night, and to make The Great Backyard Campout even more fun.
Some examples might be:
Let the kids take their doona, or blankets outside to your camping set up (if you don’t have sleeping bags, or just if you want to add a glamping feel to the adventure)
Let the dog on the camp bed
No dishes 'til the morning
Double up on dessert
Setting up is half the fun
Are you going to pitch a tent, string up a tarp, make a bo-ho glamping extravaganza with sheets and fairy lights (if the weather permits), or just pull your swags or even home mattresses out and sleep under the stars?
Your kids will love helping decorate and make the shelter a home for the night. Embrace their joy for overabundance and let them bring out their favourite cuddly toys.
Note: make sure your check the weather in the lead up to your Backyard Campout. Rain doesn’t mean you can’t camp (camping in the rain is even more fun) but you will need a waterproof shelter.
Comfort is key
Making a snuggly sleeping area is a real treat when spending the night outdoors, and that will be particularly easy to do in your backyard and your not having to pack everything into the back of the car. Pillows, doonas, cuddly toys, everything can come along! Cooler nights also bring out the mozzies, so be sure to have your citronella candles at the ready.
Lights, cameras, but mostly action
Setting up lights to cook, read, and play games by is really important. But we think it is best to avoid flooding your camp with light. Seeing the sky and enjoying a cocoon of light in the darkness is a great part of camping.
Likewise, some people like a little bit of music when they are camping but be sure to keep the volume down for the sake of the neighbours and to avoid drowning out the noise of the leaves in the trees and the birds as they make their way to bed.
And when it comes to your camera/phone taking pictures to share with loved ones, and maybe even to The Great Backyard Campout Facebook event, is a nice thing to do but be sure to spend plenty of time enjoying your camp without your phone in hand.
Have games, will travel (to the backyard)
Once the fun of setting up your campsite is over, you want to have some good fun games ready to go just in case. You might not need them, because just being in a tent in the backyard might be fun enough. But we recommend having a couple of board games ready to play by torchlight, as well as a few of the old favourites like Winking Assassin, or 20 Questions. You can find more conversation games to play with kids here.
All hail the Tong-Master
Cooking outside is great fun whether it is on a gas barbecue, a camp stove, or best of all on an open fire. It is also a great time to let kids have a go at being the Tong-Master (campsite cook). The good news is that everything tastes better outside so even the simplest meals make for big wins.
Want some recipe tips for great campfire treats? We love Smores, and good old Aussie damper (campfire recipe and oven cooked recipe). Don't forget the sausage sizzle over the firepit or on the barbie!
Please bear in mind that prohibited and restricted burning periods are still in place across many parts of WA, which means certain activities that involve open flames could be prohibited in your area. If you are planning to have an open fire or use outdoor cooking devices while camping in your yard this weekend, make sure you contact your local government directly to check what restrictions may be in place.
Also, to ensure the conditions are safe, before you light a campfire:
- Always check the weather conditions in your camping area;
- Do not light or maintain a campfire on dry, windy days;
- Do not light or maintain a campfire when the Fire Danger Rating (FDR) is very high, severe, extreme or catastrophic;
- Check emergency.wa.gov.au to see if there are any Total Fire Bans in place.
Mess is good
A well organised campsite can really help make your outdoor adventure (even in your backyard) run smoothly, but things are still going to get a little messy. Dirty feet will make their way indoors, clothes will be left on the tent floor, biscuit crumbs will make their way into sleeping bags – and that is OK! Big breath in, Dad and Mum, and remember this is all about bringing a bit of good old irreverent fun into a difficult time.
And then there was silence
As the excitement of being outside calms down, we highly recommend taking some time lying down together under the night sky. If the stars are out try picking out a ‘lucky star’ for each member of the family. Encourage kids to really look at the stars and try to find a star they will be able to pick out on future nights all through their lives. Is it a big bright star, or a small one? Is it in among a lot of other stars or out on its own? There are also lots of great star gazing apps that can help you identify constellations that will help you map your lucky stars.
Also, try taking some time just listening. What can your hear? Try making up stories about the noises. If there is a bird calling, why do you think it is up at night? Is it looking for a friend, or telling a story to its chicks?
The best laid plans
The last thing we want to do is put pressure on parents to create the "perfect" camp out experience. Not everyone will enjoy spending the whole night outdoors: maybe the mattress doesn't feel like your regular bed, maybe the tent is a bit too squishy with everyone in there, maybe there's too many nighttime noises that keep you awake. Whatever the reason, if you need to leave the camping experience at any time, it's alright. Maybe toasting marshmallows and a hot chocolate wrapped in your doona before venturing back inside for bed is ideal for you. Or a nighttime sausage sizzle on the barbie followed by some stargazing before heading in for the night. Whatever works for you, and creates the best e
xperience for the family.
We hope that you join us for The Great Backyard Campout and that you have so much fun, you'll do it again in a heartbeat!
Join The Great Backyard Campout Facebook Event to let us know you're taking part!
Download our Great Backyard Campout checklist and see how many you can check off!