Tag Archives: Camping

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Join the Great American Backyard Campout June 22

The Great American Backyard Campout is Saturday, June 22. According to sponsors National Wildlife Federation, people register to camp outside June 22, or a night of their choice. You can register at the NWF site, which provides a Campsite Finder full of opportunities to join an existing camping team. Or you can join the Campout in your own backyard, balcony, or local campground. National Wildlife Federation hopes that the Campout will inspire more people to get outdoors and experience the ease and fun of enjoying a beautiful outdoor place and sleeping under the stars.

That’s what happened with me last year, when I was fortunate to join a Campout group at Lake Berryessa in Northern California. We fished and floated in the lake during the day, and sang songs, made s’mores and watched the impressive canopy of stars at night. Many people were camping for the first time with their families. Everyone had a blast.

Me and my camping buds:

You may know that we sometimes pitch a tent on our deck or in a treehouse. Kari of Active Kids Club shares her tale of Balcony Camping in an urban backyard.

Debi at Go Explore Nature offers tons of outdoor activities to add to the fun while camping, like a Flashlight Walk or a Bug Hunt.

Looking for more fun things to do outdoors? Try these Seven Things to Do After Dark from National Wildlife Federation.

Here are more Camping Tips, games, songs and recipes from NWF.

Of course, no camping outing is complete without s’mores, the gooey outdoor treat that first appeared in the 1927 Girl Scout Handbook, Tramping and Trailing with the Girl Scouts, which coincided with the beginning of mass-produced graham crackers and chocolate bars.

See my S’more Recipes.

Enjoy your time outdoors!

Photos: Susan Sachs Lipman

 

8 Fun Things to Do While It’s Still Summer

Although school has started or will soon start for many, Fall doesn’t officially begin until September 22. That still leaves plenty of time to get outside and enjoy some of summer’s simple pleasures.

Whistle with a blade of grass

This classic pastime is fun to do when sitting in the grass with friends or family, or even by yourself.

Find the widest blade of grass you can. It should also be long and relatively thick.

Hold your thumbs upright, so they face toward you and touch at the knuckles and tips.

Place the grass between your thumbs, holding it so that the piece of grass is taut and there is a little air on each side of it.

Purse your lips so that a small but strong bit of air comes out of their center and blow into the opening where the grass is.

Make a daisy chain

This is a charming activity to do while relaxing in a grassy meadow or field. If you’d like, make your chain into a necklace or crown.

You’ll need:

• Small daisylike flowers (pick only from grassy fields where they are in profusion, as it may not be okay to pick flowers in some protected areas.)
• Pin (your fingernail will work as well)

Carefully prick a pin or fingernail into the daisy’s stem, approximately
1/3 of the way down from the flower.

Gently thread a second daisy stem through the hole, taking care not to break it. The second flower head now rests atop the first stem.

Continue to add daisies to the chain, until you have achieved a length you like. Attach the ends, if desired.

Catch fireflies

They’re called fireflies, lightening bugs, glowworms, and moon bugs. They wink at us with their intermittent glow in darkening skies on humid nights. For many, seeing and catching them is the ultimate summer nature experience.

You’ll need:
• Flashlight
• Net
• Clear, lidded jar, with a few holes punched into the lid, using a hammer and nail— if you don’t have a lid, use plastic wrap, punched with small holes and secured with a rubber band
• Leaves or a moistened paper towel, placed at the bottom of the jar

Find a humid environment— the best are fields or forests with bodies of water nearby, although fireflies are also found in parks and backyards. Though fireflies live all over the world, they are rare in the western United States.

Turn off all surrounding lights, if possible. Let your eyes adjust to the dark.

If you don’t see fireflies, turn a flashlight on and off in a flashing motion to attract one.

When you spot a firefly, place the net over it and gently transfer it into the jar.

You may be able to catch it right in the jar. Fireflies are not dangerous to touch, but be careful not to crush them.

Keep your fireflies for a short time, releasing them again the same or the next night, to ensure their survival.

Skip a stone

Learning to skip stones takes a lot of practice and perseverance, but it’s an impressive skill once you master it.

Find a calm body of water.

Find a smooth, flat, lightweight stone. The flatness will allow it to skip; the lightness will allow it to be tossed a long way.

Balance near the water and fling the stone with the wrist, as you would a Frisbee.

Try to have the stone enter the water at a 20° angle. If the angle is smaller, the stone will bounce but lose energy. If the angle is bigger, the stone will sink.

Keep practicing!

Play tag in a park

There are so many fun tag games, you needn’t limit yourself to basic tag. Try this fun variation:

Blob Tag

Once a player is tagged by the person who is “it,” the two join arms and become a blob, which chases players together to try to tag them. Other players who are tagged also join arms and become part of the blob. Some play a version in which, when the blob reaches four people, two split off to become a new blob. The last person standing alone becomes the new “it.”

Camp in your backyard

Camping out in sleeping bags is fun any time of year— in a backyard, on a porch or balcony, even on the living-room floor. Wherever you roll out the sleeping bags, enjoy some traditional camp activities:

Sing traditional or silly campfire songs like Go Bananas, She’ll Be Comin’ Round the Mountain, Boom Chicka Boom, and Rose Rose.

Make shadow puppets by shining a flashlight onto a tent or house wall. Hold your hands between the light and the wall in various shapes like these:

Rabbit— Make a fist with one hand. Place the other palm
over it and make a peace sign (for ears) with two fingers.

Hawk— Link your thumbs together, with your hands facing
away from you. Stretch out your fingers and hands and flutter
them like wings.

Make s’mores, banana boats, hobo popcorn and other classic camp treats.

Gaze at the Stars

With its possibilities for clear skies and warm nights, summer often offers the best opportunities to get out and gaze at the stars. Begin to get to know the night sky by locating a few key constellations, like the Big Dipper (visible over much of the Northern Hemisphere in summer) and orienting toward those. The Big Dipper appears like a ladle (bowl) and handle. To find the North Star (Polaris), extend an imaginary line up from the top corner of the ladle that is furthest from the handle. Polaris is in turn on the handle of the Little Dipper, which appears upside down and facing the opposite direction from the Big Dipper. (In the Southern Hemisphere, orient to the Southern Cross.) If possible, buy a portable star chart or get acquainted with the major constellations in your area and season. Consult your chart to find other stars and constellations, based on the ones you’ve already found.

Make summer fruit jam

Head to a farm, backyard or market while summer fruit is at its ripest, and pick your favorite peaches, apricots, plums, figs or berries and then make them into jam. If you’ve never tried canning, you may discover a terrific new hobby as you make family memories and lovely jars of jewel-colored jam that you’ll be able to give as gifts or open in the depths of midwinter to remind you of sunny summer.

These activities and more can be found in Fed Up with Frenzy: Slow Parenting in a Fast-Moving World.

Photos: Susan Sachs Lipman, Public Domain

 

Join the Great American Backyard Campout June 23

Would you like to attend an overnight, family-friendly campout with a celebrity chef cooking your meals, live entertainment, fun outdoor activities and all the Coleman gear you need provided?

What is it? The Coleman Company, Inc. is hosting a private camping event for 15 families. I get to choose 5 of those families from amongst my blog readers!

Why are they hosting this event? Coleman has partnered with National Wildlife Federation (NWF) to sponsor this year’s Great American Backyard Campout. Coleman and NWF want to inspire parents to get their families outside, even if they’ve never camped before.

If I win, what do I get? The winners will receive a family ticket (for a family of up to five) to attend the Coleman Great American Backyard Campout event. You are responsible for your own transportation, so it’s better if you live close enough to drive. We won’t exclude you because of distance, though – if you’re willing to make the trip, you can enter! At the campout, you and your family will get:

  • A full campsite worth of Coleman gear for you to use at the event, and take home with you when it’s over
  • Meals, recipes and outdoor cooking instruction from a local celebrity chef
  • Fishing instructions from a Shakespeare fishing pro fisherman
  • Stargazing with an astronomer
  • Live campfire sing-alongs with a local musician
  • Guided morning hike with a delicious breakfast at the destination
  • Easy ways your family can help the environment while camping from Leave No Trace
  • Lots of Coleman helpers to lend a hand if you have questions about the outdoors
  • Plenty of fun leisure activities, like a bean bag toss, Frisbee throwing, card games and more

My family has never been camping before. Can we still attend? Absolutely! This event is designed for campers who don’t have a lot of experience, or any experience at all. Plenty of Coleman folks will be available to give you a hand with your gear and answer any questions you may have. We’ll also have modern facilities and running water at the campsite, so there’s no need to worry about going too “extreme” your first time out.

Where is the event located, since I have to travel? Lake Berryesssa – Chaparral Cove, 7600 Knoxville Road, Napa, CA  94558

When is it? The Great American Backyard Campout takes place on June 23, 2012. Coleman’s event will be taking place from 11 a.m. on June 23 until 10 a.m. on June 24.

What is the Great American Backyard Campout all about? Great American Backyard Campout is part of National Wildlife Federation’s “Be Out There” movement, which is designed to provide tools that inspire parents and children to spend time in the outdoors. Over the next three years, NWF’s goal is to get 10 million more kids playing outside on a regular basis. Spending a night under the stars is the perfect way to start.

That’s a lot of info – but now I’d really like to attend with my family. How does the contest work? It’s easy! Leave a comment on my blog & tell me these things:

  • Your name and email address. We’ll only call or email you if you’re a winner, and we won’t disclose your info to anyone else.
  • If you’re willing to travel to the event location on June 23.
  • Why your family would like to attend the campout.

At 9 p.m. Pacific Time June 7, I’ll be selecting 5 winners from the entries I receive from you. I’ll inform the winners individually, and we’ll coordinate with Coleman to get you everything you need before the campout. Then, we’ll see each other on June 23!

If you have any questions about the contest, let me know. If I don’t know the answer, I’ll find out from Coleman and get back to you as soon as I can.

And if you don’t want to enter the contest, please enjoy the Great American Backyard Campout in a backyard or in a campground near you!

Camping in Brookyn, NY. Photo: Peter Fisher

Other images: National Wildlife Federation

Here’s a link to the Official Contest Rules (note that my closing time is slightly different) on the Because I’m Mommy web site.

Great American Backyard Campout is Sat. June 25

The Great American Backyard Campout is scheduled for Saturday, June 25. According to sponsors National Wildlife Federation, people register to camp outside June 25, or a night of their choosing. You can register at the NWF site, which offers opportunities to join a group campsite, share camping tips and stories, or donate to the cause of getting more people outside in nature (this is optional). Campgrounds, backyards, balconies all work, say the organizers, who hope the event, like past Campouts, will inspire more people to get outdoors and experience sleeping under the stars.

You may know that we sometimes pitch a tent on our deck or in a treehouse. Kari Svenneby of Active Kids Club shares her tale of balcony camping.

You can register for the Great American Backyard Campout here. Looking for fun things to do outdoors? Try these Seven Things to Do After Dark.

And, of course, you’ll want to make s’mores, the gooey outdoor treat that first appeared in the 1927 Girl Scout Handbook, Tramping and Trailing with the Girl Scouts, which coincided with the beginning of mass-produced graham crackers and chocolate bars.

You’ll need:

1 graham cracker, broken in half to make two squares
One or two squares of milk chocolate (half of a classic Hershey’s chocolate bar works well)
1 marshmallow
A wooden or metal skewer

Layer a chocolate piece on top of each graham cracker.

Toast your marshmallow over an open flame, until it is the color of toast.

Remove the marshmallow from the flame.

Place the prepared graham cracker under it and carefully slide the marshmallow off the skewer, quickly capping it with a second square of chocolate, if desired, and the second graham cracker.

Eat the gooey creation and marvel at its simple perfection.

Not a purist? Add a spoonful of peanut butter.

No open flame? If you’re camping in the backyard, you can cook s’mores inside and bring them out. Toast marshmallows in a broiler or toaster oven by lining a small metal baking pan (or toaster oven pan) with foil and non-stick spray. Turn the marshmallows halfway through cooking, which will only take a few minutes. Watch them to prevent them from burning.

Photos by Susan Sachs Lipman

 

Camping Trip: California’s Eldorado National Forest

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I just got back from a mother-daughter camping trip in California’s Eldorado National Forest. It was a new spot to me, and I highly recommend it. It’s a classic high-altitude conifer forest setting, in which every camp site is near a reservoir, lake or creek. Campers can fish (there’s a supply and bait store within the forest), swim, boat, hike, or bike on paved trails. Water and toilets are close. Facilities are well-maintained. The forest has a general store. It’s all located a little more than 3 hours from the Bay Area, northeast of Placerville and west of Lake Tahoe.

I felt immediately relaxed in the peaceful setting that provides something for everyone and ease of doing it. Our particular campground was called Wolf Creek, and was one of many on the Union Valley Reservoir. We could still see snow in the Sierras.

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A bike path ran around the reservoir.

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Here are the girls in the reservoir.

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There was a lot of bonding, in the water and in the tent. (As well as a few hands of poker.)

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Anna and Camille made beaded message bracelets and lanyards.

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Anna was the camp cook.

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Food just tastes better when made and eaten outdoors.

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Photos by Susan Sachs Lipman

Gone Fishin’

.. Or at least camping.

I’ll be away from my blog for a few days while I take a mother/daughter camping trip with another pair. We plan to explore the El Dorado National Forest and the Yuba River. I’ll be back in time for July 4. Have a great week, everyone!

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Photo by Susan Sachs Lipman

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