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. 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.  Let the kids take their doona, or blankets outside; let the dog on the camp bed; no dishes 'til the morning; double up on dessert.

THE GREAT BACKYARD CAMPOUT TOP TIPS

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. Note: make sure your check the weather - you may need to make sure your set up is waterproof!

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.

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?

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. 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

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, or maybe the tent is a bit too squishy with everyone in there.  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 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!

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! 

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.  You can see videos of some of our ideas for campfire cooking, and 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 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!  Just be sure to check if there is a fire ban in your area before lighting a backyard campfire.

Nature Play Australia

Is an incorporated not-for-profit association established to increase the time Australian children spend in unstructured play outdoors and in nature.