Camping with kids can be a lot of fun and camping with kids can also be chaotic, stressful, and exhausting. Cue the drum roll….. but backyard camping with kids, it’s the best of both! Easier, less stressful and still heaps of fun!
If there is any apprehension from you or your family, this is probably the easiest and the safest type of camping there is. Think of backyard camping as the appetizer to the full-on 6 course meal type of camping!
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What is backyard camping?
Basically, backyard camping is simply having a campout at your home. You don’t even need to spend the whole night outdoors if you don’t want to… you can do all the fun camping things, then head inside to your cozy bed for the night!
But, if you are going to sleep outdoors, this could mean anything from setting up sleeping bags on the porch to pitching a tent at the back of your property under the tree by the fence.
If you’re really lucky and live on a large piece of land (or have friends/family who do and would let you sleep there for the night), you can head further away from the house so you feel alone and like you’re actually out in the wilderness.
What do you need to have a backyard campout?
To plan a successful backyard camping excursion you’ll need something to sleep in or on and some basic camping supplies. Perhaps you’d like to have a campfire or bring along a picnic? You could do all your bedtime routine inside the house where it’s most convenient and head out in your pajamas.
Or, you could pack everything you’ll need and do it all outdoors (although, I don’t recommend peeing in the backyard! – you’ll have to head in for some things)
And, if you’re not planning to sleep outside, you should still set up the tent because kids will love it! If you don’t have a tent you could also create a fort or shelter and set up a ‘camping spot’ with blankets, pillow, snacks, and a few activities.
Activities for backyard camping
Well, I think it goes without saying that you should make s’mores at your backyard camp out! But, what type of s’mores is up to you. If you are able and planning on having a small campfire, you can roast the marshmallows for traditional s’mores. Otherwise, here are a few more ideas for the yummy treat:
- Use the heat of the sun and have a little science fun by making s’mores in a pizza box solar oven.
- Fill waffle cones with marshmallows, chocolate, and other goodies, then roast these over the fire or grill.
- Or you could roast up a whole pan of s’mores nacho-style. Letscampsmore.com gives all the details on how to best make this marshmallow nacho treat.
For most kids, s’mores, playing in the backyard, and sleeping in the tent will likely be enough excitement. But, if you happen to be planning this for older kids or would still like a few planned activities on hand, check out these following ideas:
- Scavenger hunts are always fun! Here’s a list of various nature scavenger hunts. Or, you can easily make up your own scavenger hunt. For young kids color boxes and tape this to a plastic pail or paper bag. Then, kids, will hunt around the backyard looking for items of each color.
- Try inviting some reading by bringing out some fun kid’s books and laying them with pillows onto a big blanket in the shade. These camping books would be perfect for the backyard campout!
- Pull out the yard games. Think badminton, croquet, bocce ball, or cornhole.
- Or, if you don’t happen to have any of these, balloon tennis looks like an easy and super fun activity.
- If you live somewhere where the sun sets early you could try setting up an outdoor movie showing. Diana Rambles put together a very cool camping movie party and you can see how she made all the props and grab her printables too!
A few last tips for a successful night in the backyard:
- Kids will enjoy the process of setting up camp as well as actually camping. So, let them be involved.
- Invite a few family friends along for the adventure – or maybe a few stuffies or dolls!
- Make sure to check the weather forecast and plan for any night time temperature drops.
Backyard camping as preparation for their first camping trip
Even if you’d prefer camping somewhere other than your backyard, backyard camping can be very helpful in getting toddlers comfortable with the new situation. It seems that tents are very exciting to toddlers and you’d probably all be better off getting that tent sleeping excitement spent at home than at the campground.
It can also feel less intimidating to kids who are worried about sleeping outdoors or in strange situations.
Hopefully you found some great tips and inspiration to head to your own backyard for an evening of fun family camping!
If you’re looking for more family camping posts, give these a try:
- Camping picture books that kids will love
- Pita pizza: yummy, easy, and fun!
- How to simplify your family camping with these camping planners and checklists