Friday, July 18, 2014

Backyard Camping: A Convenient Alternative to the Real Thing

Camping is a great escape from the media and technology consumed lives we live, but sometimes we just don't have the time to get all packed up and plan a full camping trip...

Introducing Backyard Camping!

Maybe it's the kids first time camping and you want to have a trial run in the backyard? Or perhaps you only have one free day and night to camp and you want to take advantage of what little time you have by doing it in the backyard? Or it could be that you just want to spend some time outdoors without having to drive somewhere? Whatever your reasons are, backyard camping is a great alternative because camping is really just about being in nature and having fun outside, and we can do that in our backyards!

Here are four steps to have a successful backyard camping experience!

1. Turn your Backyard into a Campsite

  First you have to gather the gear and actually make your backyard feel like a campsite! This includes setting up the tent, building a fire(or makeshift fire), preparing your outdoor meals etc. You can use your regular camping tent, or get creative and create your own outdoor tent with rope and tarps! Or if you have a trampoline, you can set-up a tent on top of it and save time filling up the air mattress! For the campfire, if you can't have a real one, go ahead and set up LED candles or lanterns in an area where you can sit around them and tell stories, really getting the feel for a true campsite. As far as outdoor cooking goes, set up an outdoor camp kitchen! Use an outdoor grill or a portable one and cook up some great camping foods outside! Some never-fail meals include shish kabobs, rib-eye, stuffed cheeseburgers, meatballs, corn on the cob, and pasta salads. Visit our recipe blog for more. Bring out the camping chairs and any other camp gear you may have, and once everything is outside, stay there! Unless of course for the need of restroom trips.

 2. Get in the Camping Mindset

Even though you are outside, you should still do a bit of exploring rather than just going straight to the backyard. After setting up camp, pack a backpack, take some water, and go on a hike, even if its just around the neighborhood. Don't forget the sunscreen! Explore areas you have never seen before and make games of it! Put together a hobo scavenger hunt, and get the kids amerced in nature and learning new things. This step is very important to backyard camping because you get to leave your property and work up a bit of a sweat. Going on a little walk and exploring the nature that surrounds you will give you and the kids a new appreciation for the outdoors, and maybe even provide some new locations to play or walk around at in the future!

3. Keep the Kids Busy with Campsite Projects

 After the hike, you still might have some time before dinner for some fun campsite activities! Bug catching is always a fun and educational classic that will work just about anywhere outdoors. Let the kids create their own camping journal and have them write about their hike and draw pictures of the bugs, birds, or plants that they saw. Practice your bird calls, on your own or with a real bird call. Collect pinecones on your nature walk and make a bird feeder. There are plenty of fun activities to enjoy right in your backyard, all it takes is a little creativity and an open mind.

More creative outdoor activities here.

4. S'mores and S'more Pre-bedtime Activities

 Dinner's over, but it's not bedtime yet. Camping tradition of s'mores is in action, and even if you can't have a real fire, there are plenty of ways to improvise. One way is to have a do-it-yourself s'mores bar or cone station with all the fixings. Ever had salted carmel monkey s'mores? If you really want to roast marshmallows, just do it over a charcoal grill, you may not have the flames, but it still gets the job done. Another after dinner activity, if you don't mind a bit of technology, is screening a movie in your backyard. Set up a picnic area with blankets and pillows and watch it right on your laptop. Popcorn anyone?

To hear founder Dawn Bitz talk about making summer memories in your backyard, click here

Monday, July 14, 2014

Photo of the Weekend!

We all love weekends, and hopefully we all try to have some fun during them! 

Photo of the weekend is all about trying to encourage fun and spontaneity during our short vacation every week. Getting outdoors is important to our wellbeing and we want to see how you spend your time outside over the weekend. So every week we will post one person's photo onto our blog and share it with the rest of the world. We want to see funny, beautiful, exciting photos, just as long as they represent the outdoors! Send us your picture entry every Sunday or Monday morning and you may just see it again on our page! Send to

September 28, 2014

Thank you Chris Sommese of Denver, Colorado! Vail is only a little over an hour away and the beautiful scenery at Piney River Ranch is worth the traffic on 70! Hiking with his girlfriend, Chris saw three moose and reached a breathtaking waterfall which is the destination of the hike.

September 21, 2014
Thank you Camilla Meyer of Evergreen, Colorado! What a fun weekend camping with the family at Rainbow Lakes near Nederland, Colorado and hiking around the 7 small lakes. Very family friendly hiking with mild grades to reach the 7 beautiful lakes with views of glaciers up above. 

August 18, 2014
Thank you Jesse Wiley of Clintonville, Wisconsin! This picture is priceless! Paddle boarding with the dog on Hasbrook Lake in Northern Wisconsin. 

August 11, 2014
Thank you Olivia Charlier of Green Bay, Wisconsin! This fabulous picture was taken on a family outing to the DeYoung Family Zoo in the Upper Peninsula, a place where the animals are pets, not exhibits.

August 4, 2014
Thank you Martin Myers of Oregon!! This picture is stunning! Showing Mt. Thielson at Umpqua 
National Forest in Oregon.

July 28
Thank you Buddy Suttle of Laguna Beach, CA! His dog Izzy LOVES hanging out in the tent while camping. Tent with a porch is perfect for her. Anyone else have furry friends who think the tent is their doghouse? 

July 21
Thank you Kevin Long of Boulder, CO! This is beautiful camp site for a family camping trip, which Kevin and his family had the pleasure of taking. Near Fort Collins, CO on the Poudre River is where you too can camp here!

July 14, 2013
Thank you Joe Selvick of Minnesota! Exploring Colorado at it's best, Joe and friends went camping in Winter Park at Vasquez Wilderness area this weekend and got to see a free concert in town! Many resorts hold free summer concert series' to keep people coming around year long, check it out!

August 20, 2013
Thank you Alex Lee from Los Angeles for sharing your photo of the double arches in Bryce Canyon. While camping and hiking around Bryce Canyon National Park in Utah, Alex came across the beautiful sight, thank goodness for Iphones!

July 29, 2013
Thank you Rob Guenther of Fort collins. While hiking along in Crested Butte he came across an old abandoned cabin that resembled one on a picture he had boughten... turns out it's the same cabin!

July 2, 2013
Thank you Michele Nevills, from Northern California. Her and her family go up to Lake Tahoe every summer and go camping. This year they got to experience the new water sport of paddle boarding! Thanks for sharing, definitely going to have to try that out.

June 10, 2013
Thanks Will Collins, for sharing your photo of Canoeing in the Northwoods! Always in for a good time when you gather friends and family in the outdoors!

May 28, 2013
Thank you Riley Walker for sharing your photo of hiking Bear Peak in Boulder, Colorado. Bear Peak is the highest point of the front rage in Boulder. From there, they were able to watch the end of the Bolder Boulder.

May 13, 2013

Natalina Rasonsky from Northern California camping in Yosemite. The mountains are big, but we challenge ourselves to reach the top to experience the natural beauty in our world. Never stop exploring.

April 29, 2013

Taken in Yorkville, Illinois, by Megan Moran on her families annual camp out, which has been a tradition for over thirty years. Traditions like these are great for getting families together, especially if they do not see each other often.
Do you have any family fun outdoor traditions? If not, start one!

April 22, 2013

Beach day with the family in Northern California. Spending the day at at the beach can be a tradition in some families, like this one, who only live 30 min from the coast, or it can be a new and exciting adventure. Finding jellyfish on the shore, digging holes with the kids(and making couches made of sand like Patrick from Spongebob) and bringing a picnic for the whole family to enjoy, even the dog, is an easy way to create lifelong memories. Picture taken by Chelsea Scherer of Petaluma, CA of her parents walking along the shore.

March 18, 2013

Blake taking a break to play in the snow on a hike up the backside of the Flat Irons. Taken by Ashley in Boulder, Colorado.