MAKING GARDEN CAMPING FUN: IDEAS FOR KIDS
Giving your kids a garden camping trip can be a lot of fun. It provides a fun camping experience without the hassle and cost of organising a trip across the country. It can also be a great way of getting younger children used to camping and sleeping in a tent. Every budding Aussie bushwalker starts somewhere, and I started in a tent in my garden, running back to the house before midnight, terrified of strange noises in the bushes (it turned out to be a neighbour’s particularly nasally cat).
BUILD A FORT
In the warm summer nights, making a fort with blankets and cushions can make an exciting alternative to a tent. My kids used to use blankets and a clothesline to create a “fairy castle”, complete with sparkling fairy lights and a flag. We plugged the fairy lights into an outside socket and they really gave the whole fort an air of magic.
There are heaps of interesting and diverse insects and plants in an Aussie garden. Buy a book to help identify animals and go exploring in your own back garden. It can also be a great way to teach them about local flora and fauna and with a book you can keep a record of everything you have seen.
CREATE A TREASURE HUNT
Admittedly I have never done this in the garden, but I have done it many times in the house on a rainy day to keep the kids entertained. It requires a little preparation, but the payoff is great. I usually hide a small treat, like a pack of sweets of chocolate (chocolate coins work best because they are actually pieces of treasure). You can make or, if you’re feeling less inspired, download a treasure map, complete with clues of where to find the treasure. You can even use an X to mark the spot. Clues using garden furniture would work very well.
COOK OVER A BONFIRE
If you have the space to make a bonfire in your garden, it is an exciting change to cook and eat outside without the use of a barbeque. Cooking sausages, or burgers over a naked flame and singing songs is a fantastic way to spend an evening. It is also a great excuse to teach the children songs and pass on the songs from your childhood. Don’t forget the marshmallows for toasting for dessert.
Telling campfire ghost stories is the staple of children’s camping. The flashlight under the chin is still a novelty for younger kids and you can have all sorts of fun with it. You can even develop a game where each person adds to the story as you go around the circle. Encourage them to be creative and invent their own stories.
There are great apps which allow you to hold your phone or tablet up to the stars to immediately see what constellations you are looking at. This has brought stargazing to the twenty-first-century masses. Lying on your back staring at the night sky used to mesmerise me as a child and now I take pleasure in introducing my kids to the different constellations and telling them the stories associated with the mythological figures.
Do you have any other good ideas to get kids used to camping? Share them with us through the comments section below.