One NWFer’s Vintage Great American Backyard Campout

Karoline Hurd is NWF’s Senior Events Manager. She’ll be camping on June 26 at our headquarters’ Great American Backyard Campout event in a Virginia park.

Summertime with my youngest child, Grant, always seemed to fly by in the blink of an eye.

Between golf camp, tennis team and lessons, soccer camp and swim team, Grant was quite overscheduled during the summer months. So when I proposed the idea of having a campout for a few friends of his in our small backyard, he jumped right on the opportunity for a camping party.

The rules were simple—no Game Boy or TV (he would have dragged extension cords through the backyard). The challenge was keeping our backyard campout limited to a small group which we were able to do (check out my vintage photo!).


The most ironic element of this family event—I called Grant’s outdoors sleepover the Great American Backyard Campout—yes, I really did! This was 12 years ago when he was just 9 years old.

We kept our activities very simple. We set up badminton in my next door neighbor’s backyard, stocked up on water guns, and played flashlight tag (with said water guns). Our Collie, Spice, was always underfoot, attempting to play with all the nine-year-olds.

Dinner was easy during our campoutshot frankfurters (in deference to Spice), chips, and at the end of the evening we served the obligatory s’mores with spooky stories.

Getting the kids to stay in the backyard at night was the challenge, plus Spice felt compelled to remain in the boys’ tent which made it pretty toasty in there, but I finally could call it a night and get some sleep myself.

Memories of my family’s version of the Great American Backyard Campout have stuck with me quite vividly over the past 12 years. I look forward to creating new outdoors memories on June 26 this year.

Want to hear more from Karoline? Stay tuned—she’ll be blogging about her plans right here in the coming weeks. Visit to register your campout today. Contact Amanda at if you have any questions.