Sleep Tight: Make Summer Fun with Backyard Camping

CampingIn his treasured book “Our National Parks,” naturalist and environmental philosopher John Muir wrote, “One touch of nature makes the whole world kin.” As nature lovers ourselves, we at New Jammies can relate.

There’s something magical about sleeping under the stars that provides a sense of peace, and brings us closer to nature. One way for kids to learn first-hand about the Great Outdoors is to plan a fun overnight or weekend camping excursion in the convenience of your own backyard. Because of the easy access to the amenities of home, backyard camping is ideal for all ages, from babies to grandparents — and even great-grandparents.

The National Park Service (NPS) provides information on backyard camping to introduce children to Mother Nature and teach them to appreciate all she has to offer. Or even to test a new sleeping bag, tent or other camping gear.

“Consider camping in your backyard,” says the NPS. “You don’t have to be in a ‘real’ campground to learn the art of camping and to make memories.”

Celebrating 100 years on Aug. 25, the National Park Service lists these benefits of backyard camping:

1. The house is right there. The familiar setting and security of the backdoor lit at night is the perfect testing ground to introduce sleeping under the stars, especially to kids. If the weather is bad outside, the kids are too afraid of the dark, or you need to dash to the bathroom, your house is right there.

2. Memories in the making. Some of the very first memories of camping as a child begin with pitching a tent a few yards from the house. Make it a fun family event. Invite relatives or friends to share in the experience.

3. The testing ground. Do you need to master the art of making the perfect s’more, or learn how to prepare meals outdoors? Use your backyard to get a feel for what it’s like to sleep on the ground, to prepare a meal outdoors, or to test your gear.

StripesParenting Magazine suggests planning ahead with fun games, easy snacks, and at-home activities for a chill staycation with the kids.

“Enter the backyard campout: low on stress, high on thrills, chock-full of the fun stuff that camping’s all about (including plenty of dirt), all within shouting distance of clean bathrooms and a stocked fridge,” says, in its “14 Ideas for Camping Out In Your Backyard.”

In the article, puts a fun spin on a beloved campfire treat with these easy S’mores on a Stick:

“Warm up your favorite chocolate sauce and pour into a shallow bowl or plate; put crushed graham crackers on another plate. Roast marshmallows, dip in the chocolate and then the crackers.”

For old-fashioned, after-dark backyard camping games, play Ghost in the Graveyard, which Parenting mag describes as “tag with a spooky twist.” Here are the simple rules:

1. Designate one ghost to hide in the backyard while everyone else waits on base (like the back porch) and counts: “One o’clock, two o’clock …”

2. When you get to 12 o’clock, shout “Midnight! I hope I don’t see a ghost tonight!”

3. Then go hunting in the backyard for the ghost. Whoever spots the ghost first cries “Ghost in the graveyard!”

4. Everyone then scrambles back to base while the ghost tags runners. If you get tagged, you, too, join the ‘ghost’ gang and the game begins again.

5. Keep playing until everyone’s been caught by the ghosts and the graveyard is full.

Gear Up with New Jammies for Backyard Camping Fun

If your kids are up for an overnight outdoor adventure in the backyard — or even taking it to the next level in a park that permits camping — New Jammies has some colorful, 100% organic cotton pajamas perfect for summer nights sleeping in nature. Check out these popular outdoorsy collections:

• Our Star Spangled PJs are a fun way to celebrate America in patriotic red, white and blue, all summer long. Choose from our stars and flags prints and striped patterns for a colorful shout out to the good ol’ U.S.A.

Gone Fishin' New Jammies• Featuring a whimsical angler theme, Gone Fishin’ New Jammies will have kids dreaming of sun-filled days by the lake catching fish to cook over the campfire.

Bug's Life New Jammies• Cute and cozy Bug’s Life footies, short sets, and PJs showcase insects that flit and flutter while lighting up the night, perfect for camping under the stars.

Play Right: Summer Traveling with Kids

New Jammies Stars and StripesAt New Jammies, we can’t wait for summer vacation, when the kids break from school and finally have the fun in the sun they’ve been waiting for. There are many historical places to visit as teaching moments for the kids. There’s also plenty of family-friendly outdoor destinations perfect for heading to the beach, camping, hiking, biking, sightseeing, and more.

New Jammies owner and founder Nicole Ludlow recently road tripped with her family cross-country and has summer travel tips that can help families prepare.

“Make sure to pack ample sun protection — hats, sunblock, back-up lightweight long-sleeve top, and sunglasses. And spare shoes. More walking/running than usual in sandals can give blisters, so maybe bring extra pair sneakers, socks,” she says. “Keep cool with water mister sprays and bring a small cooler with cold water and electrolytes packets for kids.”

When traveling with kids, Nicole reminds parents to be prepared for situations beyond their control.

“You never know how long things might really take. Sitting at the airport or in traffic, long lines for events, weather problems, etc.” she says. “It’s good to always have healthy snacks on the go — dried fruit, nuts, pretzels and bananas. In a cooler, pack cut-up fruit, veggies, and cheese.”

Nicole also suggests packing items that keep with kids’ normal routines while away from home.

Bunny New Jammies“Bring their favorite blanket, animal, books, small toys, and a potty if potty training so you can use on the go on a road trip,” she says.

To help parents be ready for a trip to remember, the Family Travel Association offers “5 Tips for Family Adventure Travel,” including a webinar. Watch it here.

“Family travel is a unique opportunity for bonding,” says the nonprofit organization, whose mission is to inspire families to travel. “Together you will be creating a brand new set of shared experiences and memories that can enrich your family for years to come.”

The Association suggests starting planning early to reduce stress and create more joy for the trip by getting an 8-10 month head start on plans.

“Many of us are master procrastinators, but leaving planning — especially for international travel— to the last minute can add unnecessary stress to what should be a fully enjoyable experience. Besides simply allowing yourself ample time to make decisions and sort details without stress, studies show that beginning the planning process early builds a sense of anticipation and can create more enjoyment surrounding the trip.”

The Family Travel Association also advises to know your family needs and designate a point person responsible for interacting directly with travel agent or tour operator.

“If possible, get the family together to sit down and discuss each person’s wants, needs, and expectations. Perhaps the kids are old enough for dinner alone and were looking forward to having that time to themselves, but Grandma was expecting a family dinner each night. Considering each person’s individual needs and personality will help you plan a trip that will be enjoyable for everyone,” the group says.

Other pointers when planning a family trip, says the the Family Travel Association, is to know traveling is possible with kids of any age — and that it doesn’t have to break the bank.

“Take the time to think through all the potential costs of the trip, so you’re not surprised later with forgotten costs: are meals included in your trip cost? Is tipping expected at your destination, and to whom? A group travel family adventure is based on a per-person cost, so make sure you are multiplying those numbers by the number of family members traveling. Thinking through these details can make a big difference for staying within your budget.”

Sunflowers_New JammiesManaging the details, aka keeping all your ducks in a row, is a big part of making a family vacation fun. Organization experts The Container Store offer the “Top 10 Organized Travel Tips” to help make family vacations stress-free.

The store suggests planning ahead and allowing plenty of time, researching conditions and requirements, and making a checklist of items absolutely needed. Also, communicate by informing friends, family and trusted neighbors of plans to travel and how long, says the store.

Other helpful suggestions include protecting your home during vacation, having pets boarded or cared for by a friend, watering houseplants well, setting timers on interior and exterior lights and thermostats at reasonable temperatures for summer, and hiding valuables other than in your jewelry box or an underwear drawer.

Also, “don’t take the kitchen sink” when traveling.

“When planning for your weekend, keep in mind that many hotels offer a variety of amenities that you won’t need to bring from home. For example, many facilities feature hairdryers in each room; therefore you can leave yours at home and reduce the bulk in your suitcase. The same is true for items like robes and beach towels so, save space for something you know you will need,” says The Container Store.

For a road trip, be sure to have a pre-vacation car inspection, check tires and fluids, and inspect windshield wipers, hoses and belts for wear. Include an emergency auto kit with jumper cables, basic hand tools, flares, a first aid kit and a flashlight.

When it comes to medical emergencies, be prepared for the unexpected.

“But you don’t need to bring along the entire medicine cabinet to remedy the situation. Prepare a small first aid kit with only the basics and a travel-sized sewing kit. You’ll be glad you have them when you need them,” the store says.

Happy traveling!