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Outdoor Kids: Backyard camping

Tent

The Great American Backyard Campout isn't until June 27 (mark your calendars!), but we got a head start over the weekend. We've been having a spell of rare, blissful, late-May summer weather here in Portland, so on Saturday my husband pitched the tent in the backyard and slept out there with the kids for two nights. Last night it was my turn. (We'd all be out there together, except my husband's sleeping bag has disintegrated after 30 years, so until we get a new one we're working in shifts.) The kids are absolutely loving this little adventure. There are (mild) ghost stories and shadow puppet theatre and fun with flashlights, giggles, snuggles and listening to night noises (was that an owl?). The kids fall asleep quickly and sleep deeply through the night.

I can't say that I had a restful night, however. I'm a light sleeper, and if I wake up in the middle of the night I have to read in order to fall back to sleep. That wasn't an option, and I'm pretty sure I was awake from about 1-6 this morning. My Thermarest mattress wasn't feeling all that comfy either, so I've got some aches as well. (Jeez I sound old and pathetic.) But watching my kids sleep so peacefully in the dawn light, cocooned in their bags on either side of me was pretty amazing. And since I was already awake when the birds started their jabbering, it was pretty cool to listen to all of the different calls. I'm definitely going to do it some more, I just need to get more comfortable.

We have one 2-night camping trip planned for this summer up at Mt. Hood with a group of family friends, and that's probably all we'll manage this summer. But if we can keep this up, frankly I think we're experiencing the best of both worlds: low-tech family entertainment and bonding with the convenience of home just a few steps away. Don't get me wrong: there's nothing like the woods and a mountain lake and the conviviality of family campers and pancakes on a camp stove and smelling like a bonfire 24-7. But this has been pretty sweet, too.

Are you ready for backyard camping? And do you have a comfy camp mattress you can recommend?

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