As a parent, do you have wonderful memories of camping when you were a child and would like to share those memories with your children? Maybe you have never gone camping, but it’s on your bucket list. It’s never to late to get started. If you are new to camping, try camping in your back yard: the kids will love it.

With camping season soon to get underway, don’t let another summer go by without spending time with your children outdoors, away from the distractions of technology.

Many parents report a growing concern of being unable to connect with their children without the distraction of smart phones, tablets and laptops. Going camping with your kids is an ideal way to schedule a break from technology; without a screen to interact with, children have to talk to you and each other.

Join The Fun
Celebrating its 10th year, the Great American Backyard Campout, held every year in late June, was organized by the National Wildlife Federation’s “Be Out There” campaign in the hope of encouraging families to spend time outdoors.

According to Anne Keisman, a spokesman for the campaign, today, children in America spend an average of less than 10 minutes a day outdoors. The shift to technology and the obsession with electronics and online games has contributed to a national health crisis. Health statistics reflect an alarming increase in childhood obesity, depression, ADHD, and behavior problems associated with a lack of exercise and fresh air.

Backyard camping, Keisman says, offers “a way to slow down those busy family schedules, enjoy being together, and appreciate the simple joys only nature can deliver.”

Although your goal is to get children outdoors and enjoying the wonders of a wilderness adventure, a “trial-run” in the backyard or a local park is an excellent way to practice setting up your campsite and making sure that you have included all necessary gear in your preparations. And as an added plus, it’s close to emergency supplies or home if your night is interrupted by a sudden thunderstorm and your tent camping attempt backfires.

Do-It-Yourself
If you are the kind of dad or mom that likes to do-it-yourself and teach your children new skills in the process, the planning and preparation can be a learning experience and a big part of the fun of your family camping trip. REI.com provides a helpful checklist of camping gear and supplies you will need for your backwoods adventure.

Make Camping An Educational Experience
In this age of ever-evolving technology, most children, even teenagers, are totally lost when it comes to reading a map or using a compass. Technology is a wonderful tool, but it is important to know what to do without a smartphone or how to find where you are going without the aid of a GPS. Camping in an excellent opportunity to teach children these rudimentary skills as well as basic first aid and how to identify edible plants and dangerous wildlife. When you do go camping, take only a fully charged cell phone restricted to use in an emergency only, leaving all other electronic devices at home.

Camping With Kids
Allow kids to be part of the planning process and take part in decision-making regarding your camping destination, the length of the trip, supplies, gear, recreational opportunities, foods and sights. Encouraging children’s participation helps build anticipation, engagement and excitement.
Spread out maps and talk with kids about where you plan to camp. Older children and teens can be in charge of their own packing. Have kids make a list and supervise to make sure essential items are not left behind.

The backcountry can be intimidating to anyone not used to spending time in nature. Tailor your trip to an age appropriate camping destination with recreational opportunities your children will enjoy.

Prepare For The Worst When It Comes To Weather
You don’t want to learn the hard way how miserable a trip can become if everyone is wet and cold. Be sure that each child has plenty of warm clothes, rain gear, hats, and a change of shoes. A helpful tip is to pack each change of clothing for the kids, including socks and underwear in a separate gallon plastic storage bag. This way, you always have a warm and dry change of clothing available.

 

If you’ve ever walked down the garden section of The Home Depot and were amazed at the amount of garden tools you’re not alone. For such a simple pastime, gardening has become increasingly complex in recent decades. From small, gas-powered cultivators to electric grass shears, the tranquil art of gardening has been commercialized with all of the latest technology.

If you’re just keeping a small flower or vegetable garden, there’s no need for all the gadgetry. Our ancestors made due for thousands of years with simple tools. Here are the five utilitarian tools that will prove useful in your garden today.

1. The Spade

Let’s start with the basics. Every gardener needs a spade. You’ll use them when the ice melts to till the soil, you’ll use it in early spring to dig holes for your plants, and you’ll reach for it in the fall when you’re cleaning up after the harvest. A good long-handled spade will last years, require zero maintenance if you keep it out of the rain, and help you multitask in the garden.

2. The Trowel

Like its big brother, the spade, the trowel is also going to help with tasks like digging and mixing soil. But a trowel’s small size allows you to work up-close with the delicate plants in your garden. The trowel helps you shape the rows and sculpt the finer details of your garden.

3. The Rake

There are rakes for every purpose.  But for our purposes you can get away with having two for your garden: one leaf rake and either a hand or bow rake. If you’re the type to kneel down in the dirt and work closely with your plants and soil, go with the hand rake. If you don’t want to do a lot of bending and kneeling a long-handled bow rake is your best bet.

Once you’ve tilled the soil in your garden with a spade, you’ll want to rake it even and break up large clumps of dirt with the bow rake. Then throughout the season you can use the leaf rake to clean up debris from plants, nearby trees, and so on.

4. The Shears

Gardening isn’t just a matter of putting plants in the ground and watching them grow. For a garden to flourish you’ll need to take care of your plants, pruning dead leafs. Some gardeners even prune the first buds of certain vegetable plants to allow the plants more time to grow before they start devoting resources to producing fruit.

Good garden shears must be taken care of. Clean them after use, oil the pivot area, and sharpen them once per year to keep them in good working condition.

5. The Watering Can

All would be for naught if it weren’t for the watering can. It may seem like an item you don’t need to put much thought into. But there are certain things you should look for in a watering can.

Firstly, the can should strain water into small streams when you pour it out. This allows you to cover the soil evenly and to avoid dumping a heavy stream of water onto delicate plants.

You should also be sure to pick a can that’s both big and sturdy. Know your limits; if you don’t think you’re up to carrying 3-5 gallons of water for prolonged periods go with something smaller and elect to take more trips to the tap.

 

These five time-tested tools are all you need to keep a healthy garden.

 

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