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Get Outdoors and Dirty, it's Good for You

Saturday is the Great American Backyard Campout sponsored by the National Wildlife Federation.

Did you know that camping in your backyard could raise money for children's outdoor programs? It's true. The National Wildlife Federation (NWF) wants your family to have some healthful outdoor fun and participate in the Great American Backyard Campout on Saturday night.

There is still time to register for the event. For a recommended $10 donation, you'll have the opportunity to have your own personal page to customize with stories and photos from your camping experience, while at the same time raising money for programs that help connect kids to the great outdoors.

The average American spends 90 percent of their time indoors, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. Kids between the ages of 8-18 typically spend more than 7.5 hours per day with media, mostly through television, computer or a mobile device. 

The NWF will use 80 cents of every dollar raised by the Great American Backyard Campout to support programs that address the problems of what it calls "America's indoor childhood" and the associated health risks, according to its website.

The dirt on dirt

When we let our kids play in dirt we're not only allowing them to explore the wonders around them, we are also exposing them to healthy bacteria, parasites and viruses that keep the immune system busy to limit autoimmune or allergic response, the NWF says.

"Getting dirty for dirt's sake isn't really the goal. That said, obsessively avoiding getting dirty doesn't have any value either. We really just need kids to get outdoors and get exercise," said Dr. Richard Weiermiller, a pediatrician and internal medicine specialist at . “Too many kids never wander into a forest or camp near a river nor take a long hike in autumn looking at the colors of leaves. That is really why we need to 'let kids get dirty.'”

Ways to make your backyard special

So turn your backyard into a campground tonight and share an outdoor adventure with your children under the stars. Here are a few ideas from the :

  • Look at the stars, find constellations
  • Watch the moon travel the sky with binoculars
  • Listen for night time sounds
  • Sing songs, tell not-too-scary stories
  • Cook dinner and snacks outside
  • Fill the cooler with drinks, limit trips into the house
  • Flashlights are a must - try hand shadowing
  • Yard guard at least one hour before night fall if needed and cover food and bedding.
  • Sweaters, hats, socks may be needed – forecast calls for lows in the 60s with light and variable winds

Share your adventure with Patch

We want to see photos and videos of your amazing Great American Backyard Campout, and to be honest, we want to see photos of your kids with a little dirt on their hands and faces because it’s so darn cute.

So be proud if your children getting a little dirty this weekend. It’s good for them.

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