Just packing up the kids for a trip to the grocery store can be an enormous endeavor, so it’s understandable if the thought of organizing a camping trip for the entire family seems impossible. However, you don’t have to trek deep into the woods for an exciting camping trip that’s fun for the whole family. Your home’s backyard is the perfect place for a family backyard camping trip.
Backyard Camping Gear
Before your family ventures into the wilds of your backyard for an overnight camping trip, you’ll need to gather some gear. Fortunately, camping in the backyard doesn’t require anything fancy or expensive — it’s likely you have exactly what you need at home. Essential backyard camping gear includes:
- Sleeping bags (if you have a yoga mat, place it under the sleeping bag for cushion)
- Blankets and pillows
- Pop-up tent (or any type of tent)
- Flashlights and lantern(s)
- Cooler for drinks/food
You may also want to bring a pair of binoculars or a telescope to look at the nighttime sky, a book (or two) to read to the kids before going to sleep, and small items like baby wipes, wet wash cloth(s) in a sealed baggie, a change of clothing, and an additional layer of clothing (sweatshirt) if the night air gets cool. If your child needs a special stuffed toy in order to fall asleep, don’t forget to bring it along.
Games and Things to Do
Keep the kids happy and busy by planning a few games and exclusive camping trip fun. Be sure to plan both before dark and after-dark games. Before the sun sets, have the kids help set up the tent and campsite. Older kids can help get the campfire going and assist younger siblings with sleeping bag arrangements.
Giant Board Game
If your backyard space allows, create a larger-than-life game board on the grass — a Twister “board” is easy and a great game for all ages. Use contractor’s spray paint (it will wash off the grass easy) to create the game circles with a cardboard circle template.
Before the camping trip make a list of things for everyone to try and find within the backyard. Items to put on your list may include a dandelion, one flat rock, and a stick shaped like a T.
Paint a tic-tac-toe board on a piece of sturdy cardboard. Collect six rocks, all approximately the same shape and size. Paint an X on three of the rocks and an O on the last three. Now you have a DIY game anyone can play.
Have fun giving each new hairstyles, this is especially fun with girls of all ages. Try new braid styles, up-dos, and fun head-band styles that maybe even dad can wear.
After the sun goes down, plan to count the stars, look for constellations, or challenge each other to create star tales — go around in a circle and have everyone contribute a sentence to the story using the stars as inspiration.
Have the kids lay in the tent and shine their lights at the grass, “chasing” and playing tag with the lights. You can tape a piece of colored tissue paper over each light, a different color for each child, making it easy to see who is chasing who.
Backyard Camping Eats and Treats
If you already have a backyard fire pit, you’re all set for a campfire. If you don’t have one, consider a terracotta pot “fire pit.” All you need is:
- A terracotta pot (medium to large size)
- Aluminum Foil
- Lighter Fluid
Simply line the terracotta pot with the aluminum foil, place charcoal in the bottom of the pot (fill about halfway), and ignite the charcoal with the lighter fluid. Once the charcoal flames, use your mini-fire pit to make s’mores.
Safety Tip: Children of all ages (and pets) should be supervised at all time around any type of fire.
Great backyard camping food includes hot dogs roasted over the campfire and tin foil packs filled with your family’s favorite veggies, just place the foil packs near the heat and in no time you’ll have a tasty, campfire meal.
Before leaving for your backyard camping trip, wash and core several apples. Fill each with a teaspoon of butter, brown sugar and a sprinkle of cinnamon. Wrap each apple in tin foil. When you’re ready for a camping snack, place the foil-wrapped apples on indirect heat from the campfire and in about ten minutes you’ll have a delicious treat.
A backyard campout for the family is a great way to get away without having the hassle of leaving home. Why not plan one today?