Camping over Easter is a bit of a tradition in Australia and New Zealand, but with travel restrictions, closed campgrounds and lockdown laws in full swing, this year we’re being asked to think differently about how we get our nature fix (and more importantly, entertain the kids).
We know that for every cooped-up kid out there, there’s just as many parents who, along with missing out on their own escape in the great outdoors, are now fearfully looking down the barrel of the school holidays wondering how the heck they’ll keep their sprog from driving them up the wall. We’re feeling it too.
Cue the backyard camp-out (or living room camp-in as the case may be). There’s plenty of good reasons besides a global pandemic to camp at home – it takes very little planning, it costs nothing, and if you’ve got kids under six, it’s a great way to gently introduce them to the wonderful, albeit at times challenging, art of sleeping outside.
How you go about your own backyard camp-out is completely up to your imagination. But we reckon adopting your usual “campground” mindset (and not caving to the comforts of the house) is a good place to start. So with that in mind, here’s some tips to help kick off your Easter camp-out.
Set up camp together
Get all hands on deck from the outset. Wander around the garden (or house) and get the kids to help choose and prep the site, clearing sticks and rocks (or more likely doggy-doo and tricycles) out of the way. Then gather your gear, carry it to the site together and give everyone a job to do.
Take the time to teach little kids different camping techniques, whether it’s a special camping knot or the best angle for pushing in tent pegs. If you’re camping on a concrete surface (like a driveway or patio) use heavy logs, pots, trees or fence posts to anchor your guy ropes to. Instead of pitching a tent inside, indoor campers may prefer to raid the linen closet and build a cubby or fort with sheets and furniture – like this whimsical pint-sized palace.
Create the right atmosphere
That roasty-toasty ambiance can be tricky to achieve if you don’t have a firepit in the backyard, however candles and tiki torches (used safely) can create the right mood too. If you’re camping inside, turn out the lights and stream a crackling campfire video on your TV, or make an easy star projector to create a night sky on the cubby ceiling.
One of the benefits of camping at home is how easy it is to glamp up your camp with some festive frills. Think cushions, rugs, fairy lights, lanterns and bunny butt bunting to name just a few ideas.
Don’t be tempted by the kitchen
It sounds obvious but when the kitchen’s right there it sure can be tempting to cheat on this one! Backyard camping is a great opportunity to have a BBQ or do a fry up on your portable fire pit or camping stove. If you want to do something extra special over Easter, check out these delicious barbecue ideas and camp breakfast recipes. If you’re camping inside, spread out a colourful picnic rug and dine by torchlight on the floor.
Plan camping themed activities
For a lot of families camping’s as much about the digital detox as it is about spending time in the great outdoors. Granted it’s a bit harder to get the kids on the analog page when the TV’s only a few steps away, but you can (attempt to) overcome this by having some camp themed activities planned. There’s the obligatory Easter morning egg hunt (and subsequent sugar high), but then what?
Depending on your local lockdown laws, walking on local trails for exercise may still be permitted – check your council website for short tracks and reserves near you or see what you can find on the CamperMate app by filtering “things to do”. Walks in state pine plantations are particularly magical at this time of year when fungi decorates the forest floor.
If you live in the suburbs, make your neighbourhood walk a bit more fun with an alphabet scavenger hunt, or better still, come up with your own!
Campers staying home can play nature bingo using things like leaves, flowers, seedpods and toadstools from the garden, or you can plant objects around the house for the kids to find. You mightn’t be able to take your kid fishing this year, but the littlest ones can still get a kick out of hooking magnets in the paddle pool or bathtub. For a heap more ideas, Pinterest is your friend.
Connect with the community
The buzzing energy of a full campground at Easter is something you can’t really replicate at home. However there’s plenty of neighbourhood initiatives happening around that world that encourage you to wander around, wave from a distance, and feel like you’re all still participating in something special this Easter.
Pop a teddy bear in a street-facing window (or in the front hedge or garden) and go on a bear hunt, kick off a chalk rainbow trail in your area, organise driveway drinks at 5pm via your community Facebook page, or have a Zoom call with the families you’d normally be camping with. You could even organise a “stargazing night” in your street, where everyone turns off their lights at the same time and spends an hour or two admiring the night sky.
If your neighborhood’s doing something cool this Easter, be sure to let us know… until we ride this curve to the other side, we reckon there’ll be a few more backyard camp-outs to come!