Summer Camping Adventures Promote Nature-Based Play and Learning

Summer Camping Adventures Promote Nature-Based Play and Learning

Camping is one of the most classic outdoor adventures of childhood, and thanks to the wealth of state parks and forests found locally, there are endless camping adventures to be had in western Massachusetts! From exposing young campers to sleeping outside to allowing children to experience all aspects of the local landscape, camping trips are full of meaningful experiences.

The long days and warm nights of summer provide the perfect conditions for family camping, a tradition that serves as one of childhood’s most classic summer adventures. Camping trips not only allow children to learn how to live outside of their homes, but provide them with the opportunity to engage in experiential learning about their surroundings during all hours of the day (and perhaps the night, too). From afternoon playtime in the woods to an evening of fireflies and campfires to the misty early morning hours that bring endless bird songs, camping trips offer ceaseless exposure to the sights, sounds, and smells of the world. As an added bonus, children who connect with their surroundings are many times more likely to practice environmentally friendly and conservation-minded behaviors as adults. Read the rest of this entry »

Summer Camping Adventures Promote Nature-Based Play and Learning

Summer Camping Adventures Promote Nature-Based Play and Learning

Camping is one of the most classic outdoor adventures of childhood, and thanks to the wealth of state parks and forests found locally, there are endless camping adventures to be had in western Massachusetts! From exposing young campers to sleeping outside to allowing children to experience all aspects of the local landscape, camping trips are full of meaningful experiences.

The long days and warm nights of summer provide the perfect conditions for family camping, a tradition that serves as one of childhood’s most classic summer adventures. Camping trips not only allow children to learn how to live outside of their homes, but provide them with the opportunity to engage in experiential learning about their surroundings during all hours of the day (and perhaps the night, too). From afternoon playtime in the woods to an evening of fireflies and campfires to the misty early morning hours that bring endless bird songs, camping trips offer ceaseless exposure to the sights, sounds, and smells of the world. As an added bonus, children who connect with their surroundings are many times more likely to practice environmentally friendly and conservation-minded behaviors as adults. Read the rest of this entry »

Summer Planning!

Nothing Beats Planning for the Summer!

Even though it feels like spring has only just arrived, now is the time to begin planning for summer! By considering options for summer camps, making lists of day trip destinations, and researching campsites to reserve, families can ensure maximum adventure and learning throughout the summer months!

Though spring’s very first fingers of green have just begun to poke their tips out of the ground, summer is going to be upon us before we know it! For families, springtime can be filled with excitement and renewed enthusiasm for outdoor adventures, and alongside spring sports or the busy-ness of the end of the traditional school year, spring can slip away into summer before we know it. With summertime less than two months away, now is the time for families to begin thinking about summer adventures and summer schedules. What kinds of learning experiences do you hope for your children to have? Where would you like to visit? What new things would you like to try? How much time will you have together as a family?

In order to plan for the summer months, families should take into account the adventures and learning opportunities afforded by the multitudes of local summer camp opportunities, as well as the camping and day trip destinations located within a few hours’ drive of anywhere in western Massachusetts. In the words of “Hindsight Parenting” author Logan Fisher, nothing beats planning for the summer! Read the rest of this entry »

Family Camping Grows Respect for Nature

Great American Backyard Campout invites families to camp outdoors, even if it is in their own backyard

Get up close and personal with nature with you family via camping…even if it’s just in your own backyard!

One of the most classic summertime adventures is a weekend of camping. Those of us who went camping as children likely have fond memories (or cautionary tales!) of sleeping in a tent, cooking over a fire or camp stove, and spending full days exploring outside, collecting treasures, and building forts and nature sculptures. It’s likely, too, that many of our readers have made a commitment to sharing these experiences with our children – taking them to sleep outside, teaching them basic survival skills, and giving them small-scale adventures similar to those we enjoyed as kids. And it’s a good thing that so many of us do so – studies have shown that people who are given the opportunity to explore nature as children are far more likely to grow up to have a respect for nature and to support environmentally conscious behaviors.

This month, the National Wildlife Federation offers families a chance to experience the magic of camping together, while also helping to raise money for the organization’s wild-life saving conservation efforts. This year’s Great American Backyard Campout takes place in late June, and calls for families to spend a night camping out together – even if it’s just in their own backyard. Read the rest of this entry »

Q&A: Camping with Kids

QUESTION AND ANSWERS

When camping with kids, Judy Bennett of Greenfield, MA recommends glow sticks and sparklers for evening entertainment. (Photo credit: Sienna Wildfield)

Does anyone have any suggestions or tips on camping with kids?

  • Susan K. Clark writes, “Bring rain gear so you can play in the rain if needed. Also, a fun thing to do after marshmallow’s are roasted is to sit around the campfire and tell a traveling story. One person starts the story and at some point calls another person’s name and they continue…it is very fun!”
  • Tamara Sharples Zayas writes, “Before dusk, before the mosquitoes come out, we get the kids all cleaned up and dressed in long pants, long sleeves, socks and sneakers. They tend to stay relatively clean after that and less likely to get bit up.”
  • Rebecca Trow Addison writes, “Lean-tos in VT rock, especially in rain… as far as what to bring- a ball of any size for throwing, kicking, bouncing etc… glue & scissors for making nature artwork.”
  • Tamara Sharples Zayas writes, “My kids mostly stay entertained with all the water, sand, dirt, hiking, etc., but I do bring board games and art supplies for times there is a lull or we need them to be more contained. Paints and finding rocks to paint is a favorite activity, and making God’s Eyes with yarn and Popsicle sticks or sticks the kids find is a good one also.”
  • Alisa Blanchard writes, “Songs, music, LOTS of wash cloths and hand towels (or baby wipes if prefer- we try to be low impact), rain gear for the kiddos AND yourself!, story book (or in your head), extra map for them to mark on hikes, travel journal – and ask for a little quiet time each day where everyone does something in theirs (we use a journal with blank pages with art paper in it); wool socks; small tote for special “treasures” to return home in…”
  • Laura LeClair writes, “Never was I more thankful for light-up sneakers than in the campground at night!”
  • Judy Bennett writes, “Glow sticks and sparklers are great at night too. -This board has some good links: Camping with Kids (Pinterest).”
  • Anne Kaplan writes, “Bring a good rope and tie it on a high tree branch for climbing and swinging fun!”
  • Debbie Myers writes, “I bring books with short stories (Grimm Fairy Tales were a hit) and we all sit around the fire taking turns reading. The kids have really enjoyed that over the years. -My husband makes veggie packs in the fire: take chopped up potatoes, carrots, onions, broccoli with oil and spices, wrap them in aluminum foil and set them in the fire. Yummy.”
  • Kara Kitchen writes, “We do whole meals in foil on the coals and large coolers are the perfect size for toddler baths (a squirt of dish soap+some heated water, also a good photo op) after s’mores fireside!”
  • Brad Elwood Shean writes,KOA!!!!”
  • Maggie Burke Eckardt writes, “We do lots of food prep at home to save time and energy when we’re actually camping and have lots of easy, healthy snacks on hand (fruit & veggies cut up, trail mix, muffins etc.) but we do the classic s’mores too! Lots of extra clothes, more than you think you’d need (think old clothes and shoes you don’t care about getting wrecked and layers). We also bring a portable radio for the tent at bedtime to play soothing music or just static if need be–we’ve had a few rude (loud way past quiet time) neighbors and it helped everyone sleep better. We also lay a small tarp in front of the tent so kids can sit down and take off shoes and not track loads of dirt into the tent.”
  • Steven Savage writes, “Duct tape.”
  • Tracy Tirrell Griffith writes, “Bring their bikes.”

Great American Backyard Campout: June 28th

One Night in Nature
Campout event helps families connect with world outside their doors

Last summer, Donna Wible’s daughters, then ages 6 and 8, begged her to take them camping near their home at Washington’s Naval Air Station Whidbey Island. Wible, whose husband was deployed to the Middle East, was reluctant to camp without him until she discovered that the base was participating in the Great American Backyard Campout™—a one-night, nationwide event, cosponsored by NWF, that encourages families and individuals to get outside and sleep under the stars, even in their own backyards. “I thought this would be an easier way to let them go camping,” says Wible.

As it turned out, the Whidbey Island event was not only easy but also lots of fun. More than 100 campers turned out for the beachfront campout, which included a nature walk, bird-watching, Dutch oven cooking lessons, and a campfire gathering with songs and skits. At the end of the campout, each family filled out a survey about the experience. “The only negative anyone put down was that it was too short,” says Dave Myers, the outdoor program manager at the naval air station who planned the outing. This year, he is solving that problem by expanding the campout to two nights. And once again, the group will focus on keeping it green; last year, the whole event produced less than 20 gallons of waste. “Everything else was compostable or recyclable,” says Myers.

The fourth annual Great American Backyard Campout will be held June 28, 2008, and thousands have already registered online. The number of people participating in the event has steadily grown each year; in 2007, more than 40,000 campers joined in the action.

“The best part about the Great American Backyard Campout is how easy it is,” says Eliza Russell, NWF director of education. “Many of our campers from past years have told us that this was the first time they’d ever camped. It’s a great activity for everyone and a fun way to spend a night with neighbors and friends.” Read the rest of this entry »

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