The prospect of a night spent under canvas (in this case nylon) in the backyard with just your older sibling and the crickets for company, yields excitement so heavily charged, it could power a suburb.

Backyard camping is a fabulous adventure when you are 6 (or 14). There’s nothing like experiencing the great outdoors, knowing the backdoor is only metres away, should a possum hiss break the night silence. Lying on the foreign surface of an inflatable mattress, with some familiar bedclothes on top for security, a new range of sounds is audible, and extending from this, a new range of thoughts and ideas develop.

Spending a night in the natural world sparks an awareness of self – one that is mutually exclusive to the rest of existence, even crystallising for us, our place within this larger picture. All the while, the sanctuary of indoors provides the safety net required to promote the confidence required to make these developmental leaps. Under a crescent moon with the occasional twitter of ringtails, what better way can there be for emerging independence to take its first steps?

Small tents are very inexpensive and simple to pitch. The hours of pleasure they provide coupled with the level of self-reliance they facilitate, make them an extremely practical investment for christmas and birthday gifts alike.

Postscript: and should any danger have been lurking, we could rest easily knowing the camp was being safely watched over…

family · health and wellbeing


Whoever coined the phrase ‘what you lose on the swings, you make up on the roundabouts’, could only have been referring to the loss of troubles and cares, because really there is nothing more to be lost and so much to be gained from a whizz through the air on a backyard swing.

Did you have a childhood swing? Mine was a modest affair – a small plank of pine board with holes drilled either side for the fastening rope to be threaded through and secured. Attached to a cherry plum tree, this swing took me many places and waited patiently in all weathers for my return.

Our present day swing sports great technological advancement since those days – now resplendent with its yellow synthetic seat. Other than that, the rope is similar, as far as I know trees are still trees, and from what I observe through my kitchen window, the youthful passengers are transported on similar journeys.

With christmas on the horizon and if you don’t already have one, a backyard swing is a wonderful family gift. While seasonal toys may break, lose pieces, run out of battery power or simply fall out of favor, your loyal swing, transcending ‘ages and stages’, will be only too happy to be part of another childhood experience.