My 5-year old daughter wants to have a camping adventure this summer, but where do I even start? What supplies should we buy and what should we pack for our trip? How can I help her feel at home in the woods while living like an explorer on vacation with my family?)
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Every parent wants their children to enjoy the thrill and enjoyment of camping. But what if you don’t have the time or camping gear to go on an adventure in the vast outdoors? You just bring your camping excursion to your own backyard!
Whether you’re not sure if your kids are ready for the real thing yet, start with a backyard camping excursion. Camping in your backyard overnight will offer you a taste of what it’s like to take your kids on a full-fledged camping excursion.
We’ve got everything you need to organize a fantastic family excursion without ever leaving your home.
Setting Up the Tent
Set up camp in the backyard? Certainly! Make it a family event with everyone pitching in. Set up the tent on a level place in your yard early in the day, before it becomes dark.
Lay down some soft blankets and sleeping bags inside the tent to create a pleasant atmosphere. You may bring out the inflatable air mattresses if you like. Make everyone as comfortable as possible for the night.
Even the smallest children, including your infant, may join in the pleasure of sleeping outside. Curl up with her in the tent or, if you have one, put up a porta-crib.
You may easily carry her back inside to her own bed if she begins to complain in the middle of the night. There’s no need to round up the family and travel for hours to come home.
No tent? Don’t expect the journey to end anytime soon. There are a variety of alternate sleeping configurations that will suffice. If the weather is pleasant, setting up a sleeping area is simple.
If you don’t have a tent, building one is an excellent choice. A few lengths of rope, a huge sheet or blanket, and four large boulders or bricks are all you’ll need.
Tie the rope between two trees, then drape the sheet over the rope in an equal quantity on both sides. To make a tent out of the sheet, pull it out on either side. To secure the sheet, place pebbles on the four corners.
Then all you need is a ground tarp, sleeping bags, and blankets to complete your tent.
Under the Stars Air Mattresses
Sleeping beneath the stars is exciting for everyone if the weather is mild and no rain is anticipated. Simply blow up some air mattresses and place them on the lawn behind a tarp.
On the air mattresses, place sleeping bags and pillows, and have extra blankets on available in case someone becomes chilly.
Lounge Chairs for Outside
Your patio lounge chairs will suffice as sleeping accommodations for your camping trip. Simply place them close together on the patio, on the lawn, or in the tent.
It’s as comfortable as sleeping in bed if you bring your sleeping bags and blankets.
On the Ground Level
If you don’t have any other alternative, just put a tarp or heavy blankets On the Ground Level. Pile on the Pillows, blankets, and sleeping bags. After all, it’s just for one night and the fun your family will have is well worth it.
Constructing a “Campfire”
A campfire is essential for cooking meals and subsequently sitting about beneath the stars on every camping trip. When it comes to creating a backyard campfire, you have a few alternatives.
If you’re going to use it more than once or twice, investing in a fire pit could be a smart option. Fire pits are available in a variety of sizes and may be found at most outdoor or hardware shops. There’s also no need to go firewood hunting! Logs for the fire pit may be purchased.
Just keep in mind that before you start a fire, you should check your local fire rules. Some areas may allow fire pits, but if your area has had a drought, you should be aware of any fire restrictions.
Grilling and barbecuing
If you don’t have access to a fire pit or there are limitations on using one, prepare your meal on a grill or BBQ. S’mores may also be made on top of the grill.
It’s all about putting together a camping excursion, not about making everything exactly like an actual camping trip. Your children will just enjoy eating hot dogs and sweets outdoors.
Campfire without fire
You may make a flameless campfire while still enjoying the ambience of sitting around the fire with your children. There are several DIY projects available. Place several bigger rocks in a 2-foot circle on the ground, for example.
Make a pyramid out of wood sticks within the circle. Wrap the wooden sticks with one or two sets of LED string lights. And that’s it!
Simply switch on the lights, and your little campfire will glow in the dark like a real campfire!
Backyard Camping Equipment
Take as much with you outdoors as possible so you don’t have to waste time afterwards looking for anything you forgot. Remember that preparing for a vacation in your backyard should be easier than packing for a trip in the backcountry.
Here’s a list of things you could need:
- Tent or alternative tenting
- Pillows, blankets, and sleeping bags
- BBQ, grill, or fire pit
- Utensils for cooking
- Plates, bowls, and cutlery for eating
- insect repellant
Allow your children to bring all of the equipment they would need for a true camping vacation. Allow children to pack their own bags with all of their necessities for the night:
- Wear warm clothing
- Toothpaste and toothbrush
- Toys with stuffing
The food is an important element of the camping experience! Hot dogs. Marshmallows roasted S’mores.
Cooking outdoors with your kids may be enjoyable, and with a little imagination, you can prepare real camping dinners in your own garden. Eat beside the fire pit or your own campfire. Or enjoy a picnic beneath the stars on a blanket.
Pack a cooler the same way you would if you were camping in the wilderness far from home. Pack it with hot dogs, hamburgers, and juice boxes for your outdoor picnic.
To keep things cool, use ice cubes or frozen ice packs. It’s all about convenience and getting the most out of your backyard excursion.
The following are some delicious camping foods:
- Burgers & hot dogs with all the fixings
- Vegetables should be cut up and dipped.
- S’mores – graham crackers, marshmallows, and chocolate
The camping excursion does not need to end the following day. Breakfast in the yard is an option if you’re feeling really daring. Instant oatmeal is simple and quick to prepare, taking just a few minutes. Another simple option is cold cereal with milk.
Pancakes are always a tasty family breakfast. Stir up the pancake mix in the kitchen and store in a large sealable bag. Pack the griddle pan in with the rest of your Backyard Camping Equipment.
Make pancakes and serve with maple syrup in the morning. Pancakes need a little more effort, but they’re well worth it when you can enjoy them outdoors.
Don’t forget to bring snacks… When your kids are hungry, go for these simple foods:
- Bars of granola
- Trail mix from scratch
Foods to Prepare Ahead
It’s OK if you want to prepare meals in the kitchen and take it outdoors. Prepare ahead of time some of your family’s favorite meals, especially ones that are simple to travel and enjoy outdoors. Keep things as clear and straightforward as possible.
Pop some popcorn and divide it into little paper bags. Alternatively, make little packs of trail mix for the kids to munch on whenever they are hungry. You may also prepare the hot chocolate inside and top it with small marshmallows before serving.
Sandwiches and wraps, together with some fruit and nuts, are a fast and simple dinner to prepare before going backyard camping. Put everything into separate lunch boxes for each family member.
Check out our page on low-cost camping meal ideas for additional inspiration.
Atmosphere of Camping
Make the backyard more inviting. Don’t simply depend on the exterior electrical lights; be creative and create a memorable environment for your children.
Luminous Fairy Lights
String Luminous Fairy Lights up in trees and bushes. You can even hang them in the tent to create atmosphere in there. The glow of lights is perfect for night time games and activities.
Golden lights or a few strands of gentle colored lights would suffice. The more light you have, the more wonderful the night seems to your children.
On a rainy day make Candle Lanterns with your kids in preparation for backyard camping. There are lots of craft projects online for you to choose from. On the day of your trip set lanterns up around the yard, along pathways and in among trees, bushes, and other plants. Then set an LED flame light in each lantern.
It won’t take many of these DIY lanterns to transform your yard and garden into a magical place for you and your family.
Give each of your children a flashlight to help them navigate the yard. You may get some charming child flashlights with various colored rings to give even more ambiance.
You’ll need a couple of additional flashlights if you intend on going on midnight adventures in the dark.
Sticks that glow
Another way to add light to your camping trip is with Sticks that glow. Available everywhere, these glow in the dark sticks are easy and safe for kids to play with. Get the larger sticks as well as smaller glow bracelets to wrap around your kid’s wrists.
Bubbles that glow are also a lot of fun. As they float to the earth, they will shimmer and glow in the dark.
That Camping Atmosphere
Allow your children to wash their teeth and put on their jammies outdoors rather than indoors. They will get the whole camping experience this way. Set up a 5-gallon jug of water with a tap in a designated location of the yard.
The less time you spend inside your home, the more you’ll feel like you’re really camping.
Activities for Camping
Remember to have fun and play games. There are several games and activities to choose from, depending on your children’s ages. Plan some family activities as well as some activities that the kids may do on their own for amusement.
While you start the fire pit or grill, keep kids occupied with coloring books and puzzles.
Outdoor games are usually a popular, regardless of where you are. Bean bag throw is a simple and safe game for little children to enjoy. Horseshoes and bocce ball are two games that older kids could enjoy. Croquet is another popular game, and croquet kits can be found in most toy shops or on the internet.
Even the party staple Pin the Tail on the Donkey will have everyone laughing and having a good time. You may replace the donkey with a more camping-friendly animal, such as the moose from Pin the Tale on the Moose.
Campfire tales are usually entertaining. Prepare age-appropriate stories ahead of time. As they sit around the campfire in the dark, your older kids could enjoy a nice ghost tale to send thrills down their spine!
A common tale-telling activity is to have someone begin with the first line of the narrative and then have each subsequent participant contribute their own line to the story. To keep the game going, even smaller children may contribute a few words.
We all recall singing camp songs while we were camping. Begin singing, and even the most hesitant youngster will eventually join in. Kids like action songs that allow them to contribute gestures to the music. Every preschooler knows the moves to “Baby Bumblebee,” a lovely song.
Singing songs in a circle is also a lot of fun. Divide into two or more groups. The music and lyrics are the same, however each group begins at a different moment.
“Bottle O’Pop” is a song that everyone knows, and even if they don’t, it’s a simple song to teach your kids.
Hike by Day
Explore roads you’ve never walked before on a daytime trek. Bring a compass and a map to help your children navigate the trek.
Bring binoculars if you have them to see how many different birds you can identify. When you pay attention to your surroundings, you’ll be shocked at how many birds there are.
Allow children to pick leaves and stones as mementos along the journey.
Hike by Moonlight
Walking during the day is enjoyable, but waiting until the sun sets is very enjoyable for the whole family. At night, the sights and sounds in your area change. And the serenity of a summer evening is something you’ll never forget as a family.
Grab the flashlights and the kids and go for a moonlight trek when it gets dark. See if you can see any night birds, such as owls and night hawks, that dwell in your area.
Plan a route around your neighborhood and reheat up the hot chocolate when you get back to camp.
Using the tent and Flashlights, let your imagination make a show of Puppet Shadows. If you don’t have a tent, tie a sheet up from tree branches to do the shadow show.
There are some easy Puppet Shadows everyone can do, such as a rabbit. Or practice some complex ones that you can show off to your kids, like a fox.
A day or two before your backyard camping, plan the details of a Treasure Hunt. It can be as simple as pictures on pieces of paper for younger kids to find a hidden prize.
For older children, it might be more difficult, such as combing the area for concealed clues among known landmarks that will lead them to a hidden treasure. Anything from little trinkets to confectionery may be considered treasure.
Observing the Stars
Star gazing should be on your to-do list once the sun has set and the weather is clear. Buy your children a star book so they can recognize the Big Dipper and the North Star.
Stargazing with your kids may be a relaxing way to spend some quality time together.
You’ll want to set some ground rules for the kids in the backyard. It may be tempting for your children to complete their meal and then return to your house to watch TV or play video games.
This should be a time when you spend time with your children. Make it a rule that they can only go inside to use the restroom when you’re enjoying family time.
Declare your camping night to be an electronic-free zone, meaning no phones or handheld games. Anything kids bring into the backyard, like as board games and other toys, should be low-tech.
Another guideline to obey is that no one leaves the backyard without first getting permission from an adult. When children are having a good time, they may forget about their surroundings and consider the whole neighborhood to be their playground.
Just because you’re camping in your own backyard doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be cautious. To keep your outdoor experience safe, you should observe the following safety guidelines:
- Wear long-sleeved trousers, shirts, and closed shoes if you live in a tick-infested region. Because you’ll be outdoors both day and night, be sure to check your children for ticks before going to bed.
- Mosquitoes can be a real nuisance at night with their relentless bites. Use insect repellant to keep the bugs under control.
- Always have a bucket of water nearby if you’re planning to have an open flame fire pit.
You’re all set for your backyard camping trip after reading this. Allow your children to ask their friends to join in the fun. If your neighbors learn about your camping trips, it may be difficult not to invite them as well.
You’ll soon be planning a whole weekend of camping after seeing how much fun and simple it is. Make it a two-day event after you’ve got everything set up. Dinner, breakfast, games, and family time…everything you need for a fantastic backyard camping vacation is there in your own backyard.
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