I was looking for summer activities when I found the Great American Backyard Camp Out. This program encourages people to spend the night outside. Our Girl Scout troop loved the idea. The girls wanted to go tent camping, but I vetoed the idea. It wasn't that I didn't want to do it. The reality was I didn't have time to complete all the extra training required to take the girls into the local forest preserves for a night. A backyard, though? We were in.
Between us we had everything we needed. One girl had a tent. Another had a screen house. We brought the bean bag game and s'mores ingredients. Each family brought some food, lots of bug spray and glow-in-the-dark stuff.
Jhanae's father laughed at the idea that the girls thought they were camping in his backyard. He said as long as they had access to indoor plumbing it wasn't really camping. He trained with the British military, though, so his standards were a big higher than the rest of us. Jhanae's mother had a full activity schedule which culminated with a midnight movie.
By the time the girls arrived they were bubbling with excitement. The build-up to sleeping outside rivaled any championship game. They started by putting up the tent and screen house. We watched them work together before we left them for the evening.
The forecast called for a possible shower and sure enough we heard the rain start just before sunrise. It poured off and on for about an hour.
When we the girls finally called about 11:00 a.m. for their pick-up, we found out that they hadn't slept much. Of course, we didn't expect them to sleep. I arrived to hear them in the backyard giggling. Other parents were there already. The girls were an energetic group for girls who hadn't slept much. They told stories of night swimming, a midnight movie that lasted until 2:30 a.m., waking up early when the rain started and playing games all night long. They had so much fun they couldn't stop talking over each other.
It might not have been deep woods camping, but it was a great experience for all six girls. They already asked if they could do it again next year. We agreed, as long as Jhanae's parents agreed to host. None of us want to try to live up to their high standards.