The Great American Backyard Campout

by Casey | Posted on June 17th, 2013

This post was updated June 23, 2014.

Centered around one night, June 28, the Great American Backyard Campout can happen anywhere – your own backyard, a neighborhood park or in one of Virginia’s 36 State Parks.

Bear Creek Lake State Park

Bear Creek Lake State Park

Why camp? Virginia State Parks offers, “Camping is an affordable family vacation or weekend getaway experience – a family of four can go camping for less than the cost of a movie.” The National Wildlife Federation suggests, “The nature of childhood has changed. There’s not much nature in it.” Put down the electronics and let’s vacation on the cheap while introducing our kids to amazing outdoors they may have never previously experienced.

For families who are new to camping, a special group camping experience is offered at the following Virginia State Parks:

Each one of Virginia’s 36 state parks is participating in the Great American Backyard Campout, and each one has something unique to offer for the weekend.

Check out Camping 101 at Sky Meadows (Delaplane) and Canoeing 101 at Twin Lakes (Green Bay).

Holliday Lake State Park

Holliday Lake State Park

Try beginner level archery, geocaching and campfire making at Bear Creek Lake (Cumberland).

Don’t have a tent? Don’t buy one. Head to Holliday Lake (Appomattox), Belle Isle (Lancaster), or Grayson Highlands (Mouth of Wilson) to borrow one of theirs for the night. Limited availability.

A Children’s Fishing Tournament and special Fossil Walk are highlights of the day at Chippokes (Surry).

All of the fixin’s are provided for a grand s’mores roast at Fairy Stone (Stuart).

Into pirate lore (or are the stories real?!)? Head to First Landing (Virginia Beach) for free programming that includes some pirate talk (arrgh!), seashell artwork, marine life programs and more.

Grayson Highlands State Park

Grayson Highlands State Park

A hot new Virginia State Park destination is High Bridge Trail (Farmville). Bike the high bridge, but also earn a certificate and official High Bridge State Park patch for completing a meteorology course. Boy Scouts can earn their weather merit badge with this course.

Leesylvania (Woodbridge) is celebrating its 25th anniversary with a cake at the Marina! A live band and fireworks will make it a fun night to remember.

Take a free chair lift ride at Natural Tunnel (Duffield) for a special Lighting of the Tunnel event. An astronomy program and other activities are also planned.

A guided biking and kayaking trip awaits you when you stay at New River Trail (Foster Falls). Bring your fishing poles (if you want) and a lunch to enjoy along the way. Several stops will be included to introduce you to macro invertebrates, birding and survival skills. For ages 10 and over. Registration is $25/person. Call 276-699-6778.

A two day encampment by C.S.A. Marine historical interpreters will await you at Sailor’s Creek (Rice). Black powder firing demonstrations and storytelling are highlights.

Where are you headed this Saturday night? We can only hope it’s into Virginia’s great outdoors. Learn more about Virginia Great Outdoor Month at Virginia.org/GOM and find an upcoming Virginia State Park event to attend.

The Great American Backyard Campout is an event sponsored by the National Wildlife Federation to encourage families to unplug, spend a night in the outdoors, get active and “Be Out There.”

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