Nature Play WA and ED! Magazine are calling on WA families to make December 12 the world’s biggest backyard campout yet!
Welcome to the Great Backyard Campout - summer edition!
Rain and wind didn't keep more than 1000 WA families from joining us for the first Great Backyard Campout in April. But this time around it should be all clear skies and warm nights, so let's make it even bigger!
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 WA’s biggest community campout?
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 and even roast marshmallows on your gas barbecue.
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
The school year is full of so many rules and schedules, so 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 sheets and 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 boho 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, with a nice bit of breeze coming through, 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. Mattresses, pillows, cuddly toys, everything can come along! Warm nights can also bring out the mozzies, so be sure to have your mozzie coils at the ready.
Check out the awesome pics from April's Great Backyard Campout!
The Great Backyard Campout
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. 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.
You can see videos of some of our ideas for campsite cooking with gas. They have been made with bush camping in mind, but they can apply just as well to your Backyard Campout.
Want some recipe tips for great camping treats? We love Aussie Smores (cooked in the oven or on the barbie), and good old Aussie damper (oven cooked recipe). Don't forget the sausage sizzle on the barbie!
The safest option during summer is not to have a campfire at all. If you do intend to have a campfire, you should only do this if legal and safe to do so.
Please remember that restricted burning periods are in place across many parts of WA, which means activities that involve open flames could be banned 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 to check what restrictions may be in place.
Also, to ensure the conditions are safe, before you light a campfire:
Check emergency.wa.gov.au to see if there are any Total Fire Bans in place.
Do not light a campfire on dry, windy days
Do no light a campfire when the Fire Danger Rating is very high, severe, extreme or catastrophic
For more information visit dfes.wa.gov.au/bushfire
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 on the barbecue 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 experience 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!
And be sure to check out the ED! Magazine in The West Australian on Tuesday December 1 for a whole lot more amazing fun activities to get into these school holidays!