“Thousands of tired, nerve-shaken, over-civilized people are beginning to find out that going to the mountains is going home; that wildness is a necessity; and that mountain parks and reservations are useful not only as fountains of timber and irrigating rivers, but as fountains of life.” ~ John Muir
Wilderness as a refuge for animals, plants, and humanity has been the prevailing wisdom of great conservationists, poets, activists, presidents, and plain, regular folk since we became “civilized.” We need connection to nature, to the beauty of the untamed world, and to know that there may be some places left in this world left untouched by man’s hand (even as those places are shrinking faster than you can say boo).
Camping is one way I can immerse myself in nature. I feel content, at peace, when I can spend time in a place where I barely – if at all – see the presence of other humans. I just need my tent, my family, the plants, the trees, the bird songs, and occasional critter to keep me company.
However, as much as I love it, taking small children out into the wilderness takes a little more forethought and fortitude. Backyard camping is a great way for whole families to get outside with your children and experience the night in a whole new way. This is a great experience to get you started, but there is a world of camping adventure awaiting you and your family, from local campgrounds to those far-flung to backpacking into the wild.
Start small. A night in your backyard can be just as fun and takes some of the uncertainty away for parents and kids alike. So pitch a tent or just roll out the sleeping bags and enjoy a night in the great outdoors! Spend tonight under the stars with your children for the Great American Backyard Campout!
The National Wildlife Federation has some great ideas for games, crafts, and stargazing activities. You know your child best. Will he feel at home exploring and digging in dirt or does he need to bring a book or deck of cards? Will your daughter spend all her time running or will she need something to color on and with? Think ahead, but leave lots of opportunity for great exploration as a family, i.e. leave the electronics in the house!
Have you been camping with your children yet? Think you will you pitch a tent tonight?