Backyard Camping Ideas For Fun With The Kids

Backyard Camping Ideas For Fun With The Kids

In today's’ busy world it is hard to take time off from work, and kids’ schedules are often packed with sports and activities that keep everyone running. All of that and budgetary restrictions can make it difficult to take a family vacation.

Both parents and kids spend a lot of time in front of screens and not connecting with each other. One answer to these dilemmas? Backyard camping - a great way to get your family bonding outdoors. Since you are in your backyard, if the weather turns or the tent fails somehow, it is easy to go back inside if needed.

Plan a weekend night where no one has anything going on the next day. Start talking about it well in advance and get your kids excited about it. Sit down as a family and discuss activity ideas. Let everyone in on the plan! Maybe one child will want to make S’mores and the other will just care about bringing their favorite stuffed toy into the tent. Go around the backyard together and decide on a place to put the tent. Discuss whether you will have a small campfire or if you’ll stick with your backyard grill. Keep in mind and research and local homeowner association or fire department rules and regulations.

Backyard Camping Checklist

Make a list of items that you’ll need together, and put a child who can write in charge of the list:

  • A tent – if you don’t have one, buy one, or rent or borrow from a friend. Here's a list of the types of camping tents.
  • A tarp for the ground
  • Sleeping bags
  • An air mattress if you want to be super comfortable
  • Pillows and blankets
  • Long sticks or skewers for marshmallow roasting
  • A grocery list of snack or food items
  • A cooler and ice for food and drinks (again, keep yourselves outside as much as possible)
  • Bug spray or repellant depending on your location
  • Flashlights for every family member (you can find these at a discount store)

Shop together or pull these items out of storage as you lead up to the date of adventure.

Have a few family discussions about your backyard camping adventure in the weeks before. Practice putting up the tent together.

Backyard Camping Activities

Backyard Camping With the Kids

Activity ideas are dependent on the age of your kids, but some ideas are:

  • Catching fireflies
  • Flashlight tag
  • Camping bingo
  • Treasure hunts
  • Sing songs
  • Water fights
  • Crafts

A family favorite for my family is Stories in the Round. This is fun no matter the age of your children. In stories in the round, one person begins a story with “Once upon a time…. “ Then they start a story, it can be about anything – if they need ideas parents can prompt a bit. They can go on for a limited about of time – say 2 minutes (you can set a timer at first, but soon everyone will get in the groove) - and then they say “and then…” and turn to the person sitting next to them. Then that person can keep on with that same story or take it on a whole new adventure. What makes this fun is that if they accidentally say “and then” it automatically goes to the next storyteller. You can do as many rounds as you want until someone says “The End” . This is often a good winding down activity and gets everyone ready to snuggle in.

If you can have a campfire, research how to build a backyard fire pit, and make that a family activity as well! You can even purchase a gas fire ring at your local home improvement or hardware store, or order one online. If your children haven’t been around fires before, discuss common sense rules such as no running around the perimeter of the fire, and no throwing objects into the fire and talk about that as part of the planning process. A campfire in the backyard can be excellent fun if done the safe, right way. Look up recipes for things you can cook on the fire, and keep the menu simple and kid friendly. It is fun to cook hot dogs and to make Smores. If a campfire is not an option, you can also use your backyard grill - just keep it simple and involve everyone in the process. Avoid the urge to go inside and use the kitchen.

Often once kids camp in their backyard, they will want to do it again and again. If weather permits, you can leave the tent up most of the summer and if you feel safe in your neighborhood and dependent on the ages, your kids can even camp out on their own. It might lead to planning of future camping with the kids in the great outdoors.

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