Travel might be limited, but your imagination doesn’t have to be! Your family can enjoy the magic of camping from your backyard. From start to finish, here are some easy ways to make backyard camping exciting for all ages:
Setting Up Camp
Creating a cozy campsite gives kids the opportunity to practice teamwork and build something the whole family will use. Be sure to include:
- A tent. If you already have a tent from prior camping trips, you’re one step ahead. Everyone can pitch in on spreading out the tarp, putting together poles and lining the inside with pillows and blankets. For extra comfort, add yoga mats or inflatable air mattresses.
- No tent? No problem. DIY a tent by using a sturdy rope or clothesline. Hang a large tarp over the top, and add a second tarp underneath. Be sure to weight down the tarp or stake it into the ground so wind doesn’t blow away your shelter.
- Lights. Sure, lanterns are pretty standard camping tools, but make the most of being comfortable in your backyard. Stringing old Christmas lights or paper lanterns around your campsite can add a magical element to the space — and make it a bit easier for younger ones to sleep outside in the dark.
Delicious Cooking Ideas
Backyard camping has a huge advantage over going to a traditional campsite: your kitchen. To maintain the true feel of camping, prep everything before you set up camp. This reduces the temptation to run back to the house for more food. These easy-to-make snacks are perfect for the whole family:
- Hot dogs and s’mores: These iconic camping foods can be made with or without a backyard fire pit. If you don’t have a fire pit, use a small charcoal grill to cook and grill all of your camping favorites. And if you’re still out of luck (or really craving s’mores), you can check out this tutorial for turning a terracotta pot into a mini-campfire.
- Snacks: If you want to keep your night out grill-free, whip up some of your child’s favorite sandwiches or a big bag of trail mix. You can also have your kids pack some their favorite veggies and dips for personal snacks.
- Drinks: Keep a cooler of your family’s favorite sodas, bottled waters or juice boxes handy throughout the night. Want to pass on the sugary drinks? Make a pitcher or two of flavored water by adding fresh lemon, berries or cucumber. It’s important to keep everyone hydrated — especially if your kids are camping in warmer temperatures!
Games, Movies and More
Being outdoors will more than likely kickstart your child’s imagination, but here are a few fun activities to have at the ready:
- Use a ladder from the garage to create a beanbag toss game.
- Hang a white bed sheet for a DIY movie screen. These affordable home theater projectors connect to your phone or laptop, making movie nights outside a breeze.
- Campfire stories are perfect for creative kiddos! For added fun, have your family go around and create the story one sentence at a time.
- If the night is clear, spread out some blankets and stargaze. Have your kids make their own constellations from what they see, or use apps like Google Sky or SkySafari to learn the science behind the night sky.
Your child’s imagination can run wild with a bit of backyard space and a few camping tools. At Lake Forrest Prep, a private school in Orlando, we believe that some of the best learning moments come from creative and playful opportunities — both in and out of school. For more tips on how to create a learning environment at home, check out our blog.