The Great Backyard Campout

The summer holidays are all about enjoying the freedom of getting outdoors with family and friends. And while the nights are warm and the stars are beaming in cloudless skies, why not join in The Great Backyard Campout!

The Great Backyard Campout will be running all summer school holidays and it’s easy to take part. All you need to do is roll out the swag, pitch the tent, or create your own glamping extravaganza in your outdoor space and enjoy a night outdoors.

You can play board games by torchlight, tell stories, stargaze, cook, and even roast marshmallows!

If you’re feeling extra brave, why not set up camp in your front garden. And if you don’t have an outdoor space or you’re not comfortable sleeping outdoors, that’s OK, just set up your ‘campsite’ in the living room!

Be sure to join our Facebook Group so we know how big our Backyard Campout is and then share your photos and videos of your Great Backyard Campout. You can also share with us through social media using #greatbackyardcampout and #natureplayqld to inspire other families to get out while staying in!

Setting up is half the fun!

Are you going to pitch a tent, string up a tarp, make a boho glamping extravaganza with sheets and fairy lights (if the weather permits), or just pull your

swags or even home mattresses out and sleep under the stars?

Your kids will love helping decorate and make the shelter a home for the night. Embrace their joy for overabundance and let them bring out their favourite cuddly toys.

Note: make sure your check the weather in the lead-up to your Backyard Campout. Rain doesn’t mean you can’t camp (camping in the rain is even more fun) but you will need a waterproof shelter.

ComFORT is key

Making a snuggly sleeping area, with a nice bit of breeze coming through, is a real treat when spending the night outdoors. This will be particularly easy to do in your backyard as you don’t have to pack everything into the back of the car! Mattresses, pillows, cuddly toys, everything can come along!  Warm nights can also bring out the mozzies, so be sure to have your mozzie coils at the ready.

There might even be room for a pillow fort!

Lights, cameras, but mostly action

Setting up lights to cook, read, and play games by is really important. But we think it is best to avoid flooding your camp with light. Seeing the sky and enjoying a cocoon of light in the darkness is a great part of camping.

Likewise, some people like a little bit of music when they are camping but be sure to keep the volume down for the sake of the neighbours and to avoid drowning out the noise of the leaves in the trees and the birds as they make their way to bed.

And when it comes to your camera/phone taking pictures to share with loved ones, and maybe even to social media, is a nice thing to do but be sure to spend plenty of time enjoying your camp without your phone in hand.

Bring out those travel games!

Once the fun of setting up your campsite is over, you want to have some good fun games ready to go just in case. You might not need them, because just being in a tent in the backyard might be fun enough. But we recommend having a couple of board games ready to play by torchlight, as well as a few of the old favourites like Winking Assassin, or 20 Questions. You can find more conversation games to play with kids here. 

We’ve also included an awesome checklist that you can use to make sure your campsite is set up for ultimate fun and games.

All hail the Tong-Master

Cooking outside is great fun. It is also a great time to let kids have a go at being the Tong-Master (campsite cook).  The good news is that everything tastes better outside so even the simplest meals make for big wins.

You can see videos of some of our ideas for campsite cooking with gas.  They have been made with bush camping in mind, but they can apply just as well to your Backyard Campout.

Want some recipe tips for great camping treats?  We love Aussie Smores (cooked in the oven or on the barbie), and good old Aussie damper (oven cooked recipe).  Don’t forget the sausage sizzle on the barbie!

Is it safe to set up a campfire?

The safest option during summer is not to have a campfire at all. If you do intend to have a campfire, you should only do this if legal and safe to do so.

Campfires can be super fun and let’s not forget those amazing smore’s! But building a campfire with your kids is a great way for them to learn fire safety and to feel more comfortable around an open flame.  If you are planning to have an open fire or use outdoor cooking devices while camping in your yard this weekend, make sure you contact your local council to check what restrictions may be in place.

Also, to ensure the conditions are safe, before you light a campfire:

Check ruralfire.qld.gov.au to see if there are any Total Fire Bans in place.
Do not light a campfire on dry, windy days
Do no light a campfire when the Fire Danger Rating is very high, severe, extreme or catastrophic

Here’s a handy fact sheet on the safest way to light a campfire Campfire and Camping Safety

For more information visit www.ruralfire.qld.gov.au

And then there was silence

As the excitement of being outside calms down, we highly recommend taking some time lying down together under the night sky. If the stars are out, try picking out a ‘lucky star’ for each member of the family. Encourage kids to really look at the stars and try to find a star they will be able to pick out on future nights all through their lives. Is it a big bright star, or a small one? Is it in among a lot of other stars or out on its own? There are also lots of great star gazing apps that can help you identify constellations that will help you map your lucky stars.

Also, try taking some time just listening. What can your hear? Try making up stories about the noises. If there is a bird calling, why do you think it is up at night? Is it looking for a friend, or telling a story to its chicks?