Camp at Home: 9 Fun Ideas for Backyard Camping
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Give kids the experience of camping in the great outdoors and make it memorable! Backyard camping is the perfect summer activity for the whole family. Camping in your backyard is safe, easy, and less intense for very young kids who have never slept away from home. This method of camping is also educational, teaching kids about camp safety, rules, and important survival skills. Kids can learn how to use a flashlight and signal when they feel danger. These skills will come in handy when they experience camping in the wild. Our camp at-home guide will have you ready and pitching a tent in no time. Check out these fun ideas for backyard camping this summer.
9 Fun Ideas for Backyard Camping
Pitch a tent with all the bells and whistles.
The best part about backyard camping is that you can make your tent extra special! Camping usually means you can only bring what you can pack or carry. But with backyard camping, you can make as many trips as needed to create the perfect campsite! With direct access to home comforts, just a backdoor away, your tent will feel especially inviting and safe. For example, add battery-operated fairy lights around the tent and bring a portable music player. Fill the tent with fuzzy blankets, pillows, and stuffed animals. Scatter glowsticks around the tent to create a “ring of safety” for younger kids who are scared of the dark.
Turn the backyard into an adventure paradise.
Set up lawn games for kids to play while they camp. If you have a telescope, set it up outside so kids can stargaze. Use a tablet to look at star maps and identify constellations. Bring board games to play inside the tent or set up a puzzle at an outdoor table. Custom puzzles that feature the child’s name or a family photo are especially meaningful for family fun time!
Create fun food and activity stations where kids can participate.
Have separate stations around the tent, like a food station next to the grill, a campfire with s’mores supplies, a white sheet and projector to watch movies, and a first-aid station with bandaids and disinfectant. Move through each station routinely. Kids can help at each one. Grill a delicious barbeque, cook s’mores over the campfire and sing songs, then watch a movie from your snuggly tent. Bring kids to the first-aid area and teach them about grabbing a bandaid and supplies when they are hurt. It’s important for kids to learn how to communicate when they are in danger and know how to act. Backyard camping is a fun way to work in these life skill lessons.
Create an explorer’s map and learn about nature.
Make a list of things you’d find in nature. Give kids this scavenger checklist and go exploring! A child’s curious mind is constantly growing. Show them the wonders of nature and fulfill their hungry curiosity. Explore your backyard or take a nature walk around the neighborhood (before it gets too dark). Use binoculars to search the skies and the ground. Kids will love “playing explorer” and learning about plants and animals in their own backyard.
Set aside time for rest and relaxation.
Make sure you schedule time for kids to decompress. Nature is a perfect place to set aside stress and anxiety. Kids can sometimes become overstimulated, overwhelmed, and anxious. Camping provides a peaceful, safe place to unwind and enjoy the quiet. Bring a few children’s books for a special bedtime story inside the tent. Books, especially personalized children’s books, engage young minds. To fit with the camping them, try an adventurous custom book such as My Very Own Pirate Tale or My U.S.A. Road Trip. An animal-themed storybook like My Very Own Name is also a perfect camping story—when you’re done exploring animals in the backyard, you can read about them! Read these books by flashlight for a magical storytime.
Make it spooky with ghost stories and games.
Tell kid-friendly, spooky stories by firelight! Kids can also try to tell some scary stories of their own. After the ghost stories, play a few ghostly games. The game of tag can easily be turned into a spooktacular backyard event. The person who is “it” must wear a ghost sheet. Everyone else runs and waves flashlights in the air so the “ghost” can see and tag them. Enjoy this backyard camping activity in the dark and make fun family memories.
Add an inflatable pool to splash under the stars.
What’s better in the summer than swimming? Swimming in the dark! Fill up an inflatable pool near your tent so kids can swim in the dark. Summer days are long and warm. Kids can swim long into the evening without catching a cold. Usually night swimming is reserved for hotel stays during a vacation. But an inflatable pool brings the vacation to your backyard camping trip!
Make your own music with handmade instruments.
Every camping trip needs music! Start a band and make your own instruments. Then play around the campfire and sing silly songs. Kids will love this summer camping activity. Here are some ideas for handmade instruments:
Banjo: String rubber bands across a paper plate.
Shaker: Tape paper to wrap around beans or beads.
Drum: Cover a bucket, bowl, or metal can with plastic wrap or shipping tape.
Flute: Cut holes in a paper tube so kids can blow sounds.
This summer children’s activity will help boost creativity and get your little learners active!
Create a shadow puppet show.
Put on a puppet show with the whole family, just by using your hands! Use a flashlight to project hand shadows on the wall of your tent and put on a fun show. Kids will love to create different animals and objects with their hands to tell a story. Get silly and make it up as you go!
We hope these fun backyard camping ideas inspire your family this summer!