Backyard Camping

One of the easiest and inexpensive ways to get outdoors this summer is by traveling to your own backyard! You’ll save time and money, but can have just as much fun planning your backyard camping adventure as you would planning a trip away. Keep reading for some fun ideas for a summer backyard campout!

Shelter

First you’ll want to decide what kind of sleeping arrangements you’d like to have. Some of my favorite options include:

  • Setting up a tent: if you choose this option, you could sleep on the ground in your sleeping bags just like you might on a camping trip in the woods. Or, if you’re like me and enjoy a more comfortable arrangement, you could set up an air mattress with blankets and pillows for more of a “glamping” experience!
  • Create a tarp tent: all you need is a tarp and rope! This option would be more open-air than a tent, and allows you to sleep under the stars while still being protected from the elements. 
  • No shelter: if the weather is going to be nice overnight, you could choose no shelter at all! Remember to make sure this is a safe option – think about what kind of animals might come through your yard in the middle of the night

Remember that whatever shelter you choose to set up, you can make it as fun as you’d like! Adding extra blankets or stuffed animals will make the space nice and cozy. Some fairy lights strung up will provide you with light once it’s dark. Or if you want to imagine you are hiking through the mountains with only the items you can carry on your back, maybe your setup looks a little more rustic with just your shelter, sleeping bag, pillow, and a lantern. This camping adventure is completely up to you!

Activities

After your shelter is set up for the night, don’t forget to plan some camping activities! Some of our favorite Girl Scout activities include:

  • Singing songs around a campfire (don’t forget to have some fire starters on hand, as well as an adult!)
  • Going for a hike – this could be a walk through your neighborhood, where you listen for the sounds of nature, or if you have a hiking trail near your house you could explore that too!
  • Have an outdoor Soundscape Scavenger Hunt and listen to all of the different sounds nature has. 
  • Learn about the Leave No Trace principles, and make a plan to follow those principles both on your backyard camping adventure, as well as on future trips into the outdoors. 
  • Learn about the stars in the sky through GSHPA’s Constellation series. Remember to wait for the sun to set completely. You can use the app SkyView Lite (with parent permission), and watch the first video of the series here.
  • After the sun has set and you’re getting ready to sleep, another camping favorite you can do is storytelling!  Each person can take turns telling a story they’ve heard or have made up. Or you could make it a game by having each person say only one sentence of a story. Popcorn stories can be super silly since everyone only gets to say one sentence at a time!

Now that you have your shelter set up, and activities planned, we can’t forget one of the most important parts of a camping adventure…the food!

Backyard Cooking

Yes, it’s time for everyone’s favorite part: the food! We are going to be talking about all the fun and interesting ways to cook outside! Did you know that you can actually bake brownies in your backyard? How about a full chicken or a whole pie? Well you definitely can and we’re going to show you how!

Box Oven:

Kicking off our outdoor cooking adventure is a box oven! As the name suggests it is made with a cardboard box!

To create your Box Oven you will need:

  • A Cardboard Box (extra thick/sturdy if possible)
  • Aluminum Foil
  • 4-6 Empty Soda Cans
  • A Grill Rack (must fit inside box)
  • Charcoal
  • Small Aluminum Pan

You will want your box to have a flap to cover the opening like a door. The remaining flaps can be removed. Then start by covering your cardboard box in aluminum foil – shiny side out! Be sure to cover every inch of cardboard in foil to ensure it doesn’t burn!

Once covered place your empty soda cans on the sides to hold up your grill rack. After your box oven is all set up begin putting hot charcoal in your aluminum pan! Keep in mind each brick of charcoal will be around 50 degrees, so add enough to reach your desired temperature with that in mind!

Just let your box oven preheat – then start cooking! We recommend making brownies or pizza! And don’t forget a potholder or other heat protection!

Flower Pot:

Did you know you can grill using a flower point? You can – let’s talk about how!

To create this unique grill, you will need:

  • 10 Inch Ceramic Flower Pot (please use a plain undecorated flower pot)
  • Aluminum Foil
  • Perlite
  • Charcoal

Start by putting a layer of aluminum foil on the inside of your flower pot – shiny side out! Once the inside is fully coated add your pearlite. Perlite is a mineral that reduces moisture and insulates heat which can be commonly found in any garden center or store. You will want to pour perlite to fill your lined flower pot about halfway. After this has been added place a layer of aluminum foil on top of the perlite. Top the aluminum foil with hot charcoal and you are ready to roll!

Once hot you can use your flower pot just like a grill! We recommend roasting hot dogs and marshmallows to start! It is a great option for Daisy and Brownie Girl Scouts to try! You can even add a grilling rack to the top for more cooking options!

Tin Can Cooking:

Cooking on top of a tin can is great for camping, especially for breakfast! It is a great option for french toast and pancakes!

To create your own you will need:

  • #10 Tin Can (make sure the inside is not lined with plastic)
  • A Buddy Burner

Yes, that’s all you need! Before we talk about how to set up your tin can, let’s talk about how to make a Buddy Burner!

To create a Buddy Burner, you will need:

  • A Tuna Can (or similar – freshly washed)
  • Strips of Cardboard, Paper or Wood Shavings
  • Melted Wax

When making your Buddy Burner start by emptying, washing and drying your tuna can. After that fill the can with strips of cardboard, paper or wood shavings – this will be your fuel. When filling the can try not to pack your too tight to ensure air can circulate. We recommend making sure a few edges are sticking out for easy lighting.

Once you have filled your can simply pour melted wax inside about 2/3 of the way and allow to set! Once dry you are ready to get started!

So now that you have a Buddy Burner, let’s talk about your larger tin can! Start by washing and drying it. After that you should take a can open and create small holes along the top edge of the can, like the image above, to help with ventilation. And that’s it – you’re ready to get cooking!

Simply light the Buddy Burner and place your Tin Can Stove on top. Once hot you can use it to cookie pancakes, French toast and much more! After you’re done cooking we recommend flipping the top of your stove onto the Buddy Burner to extinguish it – just be careful, it will be hot!

We hope you enjoyed learning all about our favorite backyard cooking and camping methods! Be sure to share your favorites in the comments below!

Tales and Tips From a Cookie Program Pro

My name is Emily and I am in fifth grade at North Pocono Intermediate School. I am a junior in Troop 50605 in Covington Township, Lackawanna County.  

This was by best cookie season yet! I sold 3,539 boxes of cookies! On March 13, 2021 I sold my 10,000th box of cookies since I started selling cookies as a Daisy.  

As a Smore’s Executive with Girl Scouts in the Heart of Pennsylvania, I try my best to give back to my community. This year, I was able to donate over 525 boxes of cookies to people in my local community:  

  • 150 boxes of cookies went to Pennsylvania State Troopers in Dunmore and Lehighton 
  • 100 boxes to a local nursing home, St. Mary’s Villa 
  • 100 boxes to the teachers and staff at my school 
  • 25 boxes to Madison Township Fire Department 
  • 200 boxes to individuals with intellectual disabilities at Keystone Community Resources.  

I hosted my very first virtual cookie house party! It was just like a cookie house party I normally do, but online.  

I told my guests about the cookies that I was selling and gave them some recipes for great treats to make with cookies. We played a game that allowed me to sell over 300 boxes of cookies in just 10 minutes!  

I created a wheel that had 12 spots with cookies ranging from 1 box to 1 case. My guests took a chance and they spun the wheel live and depending on amount they landed on, they agreed to purchase that amount of cookies to support my cookie journey.  

They could keep them for themselves or donate them.  Eight guests landed on a FULL CASE!  Everyone had so much fun! 

If you ask, they will respond

I enjoy participating in booths with my friends and helping customers make a purchase. It’s always my goal to not let them pass the table without asking “would you like to buy some Girl Scout cookies?”  

I have found that most people don’t buy cookies because they were never asked.  

I would like to thank my family, community and friends for all their support this season and for their generous donations so that I was able to help 525 people get a box of cookies that otherwise might not get a box.  

With our cookie money our troop is planning a community service project, a backyard outdoor movie night and a trip to the beach! 

4th of July: Girl Scout Style!

July 4th is Independence Day, a day we celebrate the adoption of the Declaration of Independence and in a sense the United States’ birthday! Today celebrations are marked with fireworks, cook outs, and most notably decorations of red, white and blue. While we all have our favorite ways to showcase our red, white and blue, I’m here to share with you some fun ways to celebrate the fourth of July…Girl Scout style!  

  • Dress up in your Girl Scout best, and celebrate the men and women who have fought to keep our country independent and free. Place flags at a cemetery, march in a parade with your troop, or even hold a flag ceremony in their honor. 
  • Add in some Girl Scout green to your July 4th celebrations! With adult help set off green fireworks, use green chocolates in your s’mores, add green streamers into your decorations. Girl Scouts care deeply for our country and our fellow citizens…maybe we should change the colors officially to red, white, blue and green? We certainly can in our own celebrations! 
  • Celebrate by earning a Citizen badge. Offered at every age level this badge offers a great chance for girls to learn to celebrate their communities.  
  • Blast to the past and learn about how girls used to celebrate our nation. During World War II, Girl Scouts knit socks for soldiers, planted victory gardens, and even sold war bonds. They also sponsored defense institutes that taught women survival skills and techniques for comforting children during air raids. Kickoff this Fourth of July by planting a victory garden of your own, or learning how to knit socks! 
  • As Girl Scouts we have strong roots in our traditions. One of my favorite traditions is exchanging SWAPS! Get together with your troop or make some on your own to share with your troop later. Check out some of my favorite 4th of July SWAPS ideas below: 

Girl Scouts has a long history of supporting our country, which we date back to Juliette Gordon Lowe. Juliette was a strong patriot, and we as Girl Scouts continue to show our patriotism through sending cards and care packages to those serving our country, marching in parades for Memorial Day, 4th of July and more, placing flags at cemeteries, and so much more. We wish you and your families a wonderful holiday.

Show us in the comments or on social media how you plan to celebrate in Girl Scout style! 

Post by Colleen Sypien, GSHPA

SPOTLIGHT: Happy Mayday!

Have you ever heard of May Day? May Day is a public holiday usually celebrated on the first of May. It is an ancient festival of spring and a current traditional spring holiday in many European cultures. Do you enjoy dancing? Singing? How about eating sweets? Then you will love May Day traditions!

In the 19th and 20th centuries people would create May Day baskets to leave at their neighbor’s doorsteps. They were often handmade paper baskets or cones, filled with flowers and sweet treats. The idea was to go to the door of a neighbor, often where a child or significant other lived, leave the basket on the step, knock on the door and then run away yelling “May Basket!”.

Since May Day is all about the arrival of spring, there are lots of fun ways to celebrate! One such way is to dance and sing outside! Some people even dance around a maypole. A maypole is a tall pole, usually made of wood, that has long ribbons connected to it. Everyone grabs a ribbon and dances around the pole in a circle. After some time the ribbons are wound around the pole and create a beautiful wrap! Maypoles were a part of many European folk festivals, and they are still sometimes used in parts of Europe and the Americas today!

Here are more ways to celebrate May Day…

  1. Light a bonfire. Always build fires with an adult present and remember your campfire safety tips!
  2. Gather wildflowers and green branches and decorate your house. Traditionally this was called “Bringing in the May”. You can take beautiful blooms and green items from outside and spread them around your home. Consider putting them in jars or vases.
  3. Make and dance around your own maypole. Get creative! If you don’t have the ability to make or use an actual pole, consider tying some ribbons to a bush instead.
  4. Make a flower crown! Gather flowers with long stems and weave them together in a circle to create a crown.
  5. Take off your shoes and go outside! This is called “grounding” and is a great way to connect with nature. Take a few deep breaths. Feel the sun on your skin and the wind in your hair. What do you hear? Birds? A barking dog down the street? Nothing?
  6. Leave a May Basket for your neighbors, just like they did in the 19th and 20th centuries. Follow these directions to make a May Day Basket Cone

Now that you know more about May Day, consider celebrating every year. WELCOME SPRING!


Written by Jess Delp