Camping In Your Own Backyard

Camping In Your Own Backyard

Use your own backyard for a night out your kids will appreciate and love.

By: Robyn Welling

Backyard camping is an easy, inexpensive way to have fun and enjoy the outdoors as a family. (It's a unique birthday party or sleepover idea, too.) If you start well before dark, there are countless ways to keep everyone entertained! Whether you just want a few hours of recreation or you plan to sleep under the stars, here are some ideas to make your experience even more memorable.


  • A tent: Of course this is optional — especially if you'll be heading indoors before bedtime — but having an outdoor shelter of any kind is exciting for kids. Consider stretching a sheet or blanket between two trees, draping one over a clothesline, or otherwise giving little adventurers a cozy place to call their outdoor home.
  • Sleeping bags and pillows: The kids will appreciate having these, even if they're just used as a comfy spot to curl up with a book or look at the clouds.
  • Insect repellent: Pesky bugs and their bites can put a damper on the fun, so be sure to keep them away. If you worry about chemicals sometimes used in sprays, try citronella candles or make your own herbal repellent by mixing one part eucalyptus oil to 15 parts cooking oil in a clean spray bottle. Use aloe vera gel instead of the cooking oil to make a nice lotion.
  • Flashlights or glow sticks if you'll be out after dark.
  • Emergency gear: It's always a good idea to have a small first aid kit on hand, but also remember to bring special items such as inhalers or an epinephrine injector for serious allergies in case of emergency.



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  • Snacks: Chips or crackers are always popular with kids, and, as a bonus, you don't have to worry about vacuuming up crumbs!
  • S'mores or hot dogs: If you have a fire pit, you'll definitely want to enjoy these traditional camping treats.
  • Bugs on a Log: Spread some peanut butter "mud" on a graham cracker or pretzel rod "log" and dot it with raisin "bugs." None of the ingredients need to be refrigerated, it's healthy, and it's certainly an appropriate recipe for camping!
  • Water bottles: With all the exercise and sunshine, don't forget to stay hydrated.

Games and Activities
Of course, before you go out, make sure all the kids (and you!) are wearing sunscreen and have appropriate protection from any elements. Once you do, set off into the great outdoors!

  • Explore: Reacquaint yourselves with the overlooked details around your yard. A few simple items like a magnifying glass, bug net and binoculars instantly transform kids into explorers. Khaki vests and hats really make them look the part.
  • Take pictures: It's fun to see things from kids' perspective, so give them an old camera or a disposable one and encourage them to click to their hearts' content.
  • Hike: Whether your backyard is small or huge, you can create a hiking trail by placing signs with arrows on trees or other surfaces. Give your child a branch to use as a walking stick, and they'll feel like they're trekking across new territory.
  • Tell stories: Spooky ghost stories are most commonly told on campsites at night, but younger audiences might prefer fairy tales or stories about themselves as babies. Telling a group tale, in which each person takes a turn adding a twist to the plot, usually ends with a lot of laughs.

When camping in your own backyard, you don't have to go far or do a lot of planning to feel like you've been on an adventure. With these suggestions and a few materials you probably already have around the house, you can easily start creating lasting family memories this weekend!

As a mother to five, Robyn Welling has accidentally become a cleaning and crafts expert over the years. She's a freelance writer and humourist at Hollow Tree Ventures, where she blogs about crafts, parenthood, and the hilarity of everyday life from her cozy (that means crowded) home in Michigan.

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We've done this often! If you haven't camped in the backyard with your little ones, you're missing out! They get just as excited about this as they do about a 'real' camping trip. Best of all, it's relaxing and easy for Mom and Dad as well!

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