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The Great American Backyard Campout

Jumping rope, one-on-one basketball, and outdoor scavenger hunts . . . remember those days of childhood? If so, chances are you were raised before the days of computer games! That outdoor fun has found itself in tough competition with indoor activities, such as playing with the latest app or computer game, when it comes to getting a child’s attention these days. In fact, the decrease in the amount of outdoor activity of children over the past couple of decades has become a major concern of the National Wildlife Federation (NWF). 

As a result, the NWF is sponsoring the Great American Backyard Campout at the end of June (2013) to help families realize the beauty and entertainment they can find just by stepping out their back door. The Be Out There campaign encourages parents to make sure their children spend a significant amount of time outdoors each week by pledging to “get outside.”

The thinking around this has several layers:

  • Spending time in the elements forces children to use their imaginations, which helps build creativity and enhances a child’s ability to cooperate and communicate with his or her peers
  • Sunlight increases Vitamin D levels and can help improve eyesight
  • Simply getting up and moving around outside is essential to maintaining a healthy weight.

Whether you decide to camp in your own backyard or at a local campsite, simply register online to receive access to a camping guide complete with recipes, activities, and tips that will help create a fun-filled night under the stars. From each dollar that campers raise, 80 cents goes to NWF to promote the importance of spending more time enjoying and appreciating the great outdoors. Even if your family's schedule conflicts with the official campout date of June 22, 2013, you can still register and camp on the night of your choice.

If you are looking for a way to help your children understand what nature has to offer--and maybe get some good camping recipes in the process--go for it. Just grab a tent, a sleeping bag, and some marshmallows and get outside!