Back to Nature (Published on - May 17, 2007)
Time to plan for some backyard camping
Photo by Rick Tremmel
Join families across America camp out in their own backyards, local parks and campgrounds.
The third annual Great American Backyard Campout sponsored by The National Wildlife Federation partnered with the Outdoor Industry Association, will take place June 23.

So far more than 4,500 folks all across North America have registered to camp with their families this summer in their own backyards, local parks and campgrounds.

Each year the number of campers has steadily grown, and in 2005 more than 40,000 individuals participated. This one-night event encourages families to enjoy a night of stargazing, listening for nocturnal wildlife, and exploring a whole other world right in their own backyards.

Discover a wild new world in your own backyard. Be part of this nationwide event.

The NWF Backyard Campout Web site will assist you in making the most of your event with packing lists, recipes, nocturnal wildlife guides, exploration activities, a night sky-guide, local weather and more.

Set your telescope toward the stars, while observing the craters of the moon. Roast marshmallows over a flickering fire or share scary stories by lantern light. Fall asleep to cicada songs and wake up to mockingbird chortles.

With a little extra planning Floridian’ families also can enjoy taking part, although it is necessary for Floridians to take a few extra precautions. Generally the best time for camping in Florida is while everyone else is digging out of banks of snow.

Winter is our prime time. There are very few insects. We are blessed with moderately cool temps, an abundance of wintering birds. As well, wildlife is easier to spot in the sparse winter underbrush.

June is “not” a typical month for Floridians to take to our backyards for a campout. Although our weather has been fairly mild in May so far, the end of June is predictably, stormy and hot.

Plan to have lots of cold drinks on hand and insect repellent.

By the way, nowhere is it written that you can’t plug in a cooling fan into the outlet next to the barbecue. Beware of dangers such as fire ant mounds. Darkness, bare feet and fire ants don’t go well together.

A well designed tent properly set up and tied out can withstand most weather conditions, but if lightning, hail or high winds become a problem it’s time to get safely indoors.

After the campout, return to the American Backyard Campout Web site to share your photographs and stories for a chance to win a Backyard Weather station from WeatherBug and be profiled in “Ranger Rick” magazine. Americans return to your backyards. Go online. Add your very own campsite to the list at

“National Wildlife Federation is dedicated to connecting people to nature. Today’s children are increasingly disconnected from nature.

To counteract this growing trend, NWF encourages parents and other caring adults to help children spend one hour each day outdoors, engaged in unstructured play and discovery.”

Learn more about NWF’s Green Hour™ at

Karen can be reached at

Webmaster's note: Remember a statewide burn ban remains in effect. Use a gas or charcoal grill instead of an open campfire. Be careful with all fires. One spark can be devastating.

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