Backyard camping is a fun and exciting way for kids to experience the thrill of camping without going too far from the comforts of home. It allows them to immerse themselves in nature and enjoy quality time with friends and family, all while making lasting memories.
Studies show that spending time outdoors has numerous benefits for kids, including lowering stress, improving focus, and promoting creativity and imagination. With proper planning and preparation, parents can create a mini-getaway adventure, complete with s’mores, games, and stargazing right in their own backyard.
1. Pick the Perfect Spot
Choosing the right location is key for a successful backyard campout. Look for a flat, dry area of the yard that will be comfortable for sleeping. Avoid bumpy, rocky, or wet spots that can make sleeping unpleasant. Scout out potential locations during the day to find the smoothest, most level ground.
If you don’t have a tent, pick a spot under a tree or with a structure nearby to string a tarp over. This will provide shelter and shade during the day and night. If using a tent, carefully follow the manufacturer’s instructions for proper setup and anchoring. Face the tent opening toward the house for easy access in and out, but not too close to any exterior lights that may shine in and disrupt sleep.
2. Make Cozy Sleeping Quarters
A good night’s sleep is essential for an enjoyable camping experience. Use soft, warm sleeping bags and blankets to create a comfy nest. If you’re really looking to elevate your camping sleep experience, consider investing in camp mattresses from The Mattress Factory. Their variety ensures there’s something for every kind of camper.
Also, hang string lights, lanterns, or flashlights around the interior of tents or tarps to provide ambiance and illumination when it gets dark. Having some light sources will also make nighttime trips to the bathroom easier without having to use bright overheads that disrupt sleep.
3. Prepare Camping-Style Meals
One of the best parts of camping is cooking and eating outdoors. Plan easy, portable camp-style meals like hot dogs, sandwiches, foil packets of meat and veggies, or trail mix. If you have a fire pit, utilize it to make classic campfire fare like s’mores or hot dogs roasted over the open fire. However, ensure safety by carefully monitoring children around flames.
Packing a cooler with snacks, juice boxes, water bottles, and other favorites to have on hand also makes the experience fun and exciting. And to make the cleanup easier at the end of the day, use paper plates, cups, and utensils.
4. Bring Games, Activities, and Entertainment
Pack a bag with outdoor games and activities to keep kids engaged and having fun. You can bring along outdoor sporting games like cornhole, frisbees, bubbles, or water guns for running around and burning energy.
If your kids like quieter activities, go for scavenger hunts, flashlight tag, drawing, or reading for winding down at night. Additionally, you can tell spooky stories, sing campfire songs and point out constellations after dark.
Make sure to give your kids journals, cameras, binoculars, and nature guides to spark creativity and exploration of the outdoors. Playing classic camp games like charades, telephone, and hide-and-seek is also a great idea. Having a variety of activities will prevent boredom and make the backyard campout memorable.
5. Take a Neighborhood Hike
Escape the confines of the backyard and go exploring!
Take the family on a hike around the neighborhood or to a nearby park, or simply let kids take the lead navigating using a map or compass. Make it an adventure by having kids collect rocks, leaves, or flowers in bags or buckets to examine more closely back at home.
6. Add Some Creature Comforts
While embracing the camping experience, a few home comforts can make backyard camping more enjoyable for kids. While paper plates are easier when cleaning, using real plates and utensils from the kitchen can cut down on waste.
To make it more convenient, set up a table and chairs from inside to provide an eating area for meals and allow kids to use the bathroom indoors at night rather than a dark porta-potty. Permit one last trip back into the house for forgotten items before “locking up” for the night. Having access to some familiar conveniences will prevent crankiness.
7. Tell Stories, Jokes, and Riddles
Campouts are the perfect time for telling spooky ghost stories or taking turns adding to an epic, made-up story. Share favorite age-appropriate scary books under a flashlight for younger kids. As the night winds down, end with lighthearted jokes and riddles before bed. Laughing together is a great way to bond and make memories.
8. Insist on Sleeping Outside
A key camping challenge is having kids sleep in tents overnight instead of going back indoors. If they get cold, add extra blankets and cuddle up in sleeping bags. You can also place cushions or mattresses in sleeping areas if the ground gets uncomfortable.
Have kids snuggle with their favorite stuffed animals and pillows to get cozy. Remind children you are close by in the house if they get scared or need anything during the night. Reassure them that there is no shame in going inside to sleep – the goal is to have fun!
9. Get Creative with Arts and Crafts
Add a creative element by bringing washable markers, paper, stencils, and coloring books for drawing under string lights. Additionally, provide kids with some beads, string, lanyard hooks, and other supplies for making friendship bracelets, keychains, and necklaces.
You can also set up a designated “arts and crafts” area and display finished pieces in a backyard art gallery when done. Getting crafty will provide hours of entertainment.
With a little creativity and preparation, backyard camping can make for an unforgettable summer memory. Allow kids to take the lead, get hands-on with setting up camp, and take ownership of their outdoor adventure. Follow this guide for a night of bonding that your kids will talk about for years to come.