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 »

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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