Backyard Camping with Young Kids

It doesn’t take a camping expert to create a fun backyard experience for kids. This easy camping option delivers a hassle-free sleep out without the need for pricey equipment. You also can avoid the headache of stuffing your vehicle with camping supplies and gear. Best of all, you’re only a few steps from your back door if your adventure goes downhill.

Start Simple

Let’s be honest. It’s a toss-up of how your little adventurers will react to sleeping outside with bugs and animal noises. So before you arrange to sleep under the stars, try “camping” in your house first. It’s a great way to introduce kids to camping basics. Consider renting a few children’s camping books from your local library to get them excited about the adventure.

Set up a “campsite” in your family room by creating a tent using chairs and sheets. For inspiration, check online for easy ways to make indoor tents or blanket forts. Next, make it cozy with blankets, quilts, pillows, and stuffed animals. You can also mimic starlight by stringing fairy lights over the tent and using glow-in-the-dark star stickers on the ceiling.

Move the Camp Outdoors

Once they’ve enjoyed “camping” inside, plan a weekend for sleeping under a clear sky. Always doublecheck the weather and have a contingency plan ready if it rains unexpectedly. Just move everything inside and continue the fun you started.

Depending on your property, you can set up camp in the yard, on a patio, deck, or front porch. Enlist the kids to help with age-appropriate jobs. You won’t need much backyard camping gear for your family. Chances are you already own everything you need for your campsite.

You can use tents, sleeping bags, pillows, air mattresses, or even outdoor furniture cushions. Consider laying a waterproof tarp under your bedding to help keep it dry. Stock blankets if it’s chilly, but you can always dash inside if you need more (another benefit of home camping).

Set up lawn chairs and a fire pit or BBQ grill if you have those. You can also create a magical setting for little newbie campers by hanging fairy lights or holiday string lights around your campsite. Maintain a wilderness vibe by leaving tech devices in the house. One cell phone is all you need for capturing memorable photos.

Food for Hungry Campers

Keep meals and snacks simple and easy. Have pre-cut vegetables and fresh fruit, trail mix, crackers, and granola bars ready for snacking. It’s amazing how hungry kids and adults get when playing outside. For drinks, have a cooler filled with juice boxes and water.

Grill classic campfire foods like hot dogs and burgers, or simply pre-make sandwiches. You can also prepare foil-wrapped packets to grill over the fire. It’s also perfectly fine to make your meals indoors and scurry back outdoors to eat. Lastly, don’t forget the ingredients for making s’mores - the classic campfire dessert. If the weather is crisp, hot cocoa is a great finale.

When morning arrives, prepare easy breakfast choices like hot or cold cereal, eggs, french toast sticks, muffins, or fruit. So even if your kids wandered back inside to sleep, you can still enjoy breakfast at your backyard campsite.

Camping Activities

Allow your kids some free play, but also set up some late afternoon activities like corn hole, tag, or croquet. You can even enjoy a family walk around the neighborhood, identifying flowers, trees, and bugs. Be sure to keep everyone sun-safe with sunglasses, sunscreen, and other UV protection. You can trust UV Skinz full line of UPF 50+ sun protective clothing and accessories to help keep each member of your family safe. Have bug repellent handy for evening hours as well.

Nightfall creates a magical backdrop for stargazing, flashlight tag, and campfire stories. For safety, provide the kids with flashlights or headlamps to prevent tripping or injuries in the dark. Following are a few more night activities to try:

  • Tent Shadows: Give each person a turn to create animal shadows outside the tent while everyone else squeals and laughs inside.
  • Scavenger Hunt: Hide glow sticks or other items for a fun hunt.
  • Sing: Learn a children’s campfire song.
  • Play Games: Board games or cards are classic family favorites.
  • Read a Bedtime Story: Use battery-powered lanterns or a flashlight.

When your little campers get comfortable with backyard sleepouts, you’ll have plenty of options to increase their skills away from home. It’s amazing how many choices you have for fun camping getaways. From kid-friendly “glamping” resorts with running water and electricity to rustic national parks, you’re sure to find a location that your family will love.

Happy camping!