Take your kids on a backyard camping adventure with these fun and easy activities – use our printable checklist of backyard camping ideas to plan the perfect night!
As the summer months start, we’re all thinking of new ways to plan an epic summer vacation for our kids. If you feel like it is impossible to get away, or you’re on a tight budget and a staycation is more in your budget, don’t worry!
If you can’t take a road trip for your annual beach or camping trip, the next best place is right in your backyard! You might be surprised just how much fun you can have camping out right in your own yard!
What is Backyard Camping?
Backyard camping is just how it sounds…camping in your own backyard!
This can be a great way to introduce your little ones to real camping or a fun way to get outdoors and enjoy a little break from the usual hustle and bustle of your household life.
With backyard camping, you can enjoy all the perks of camping without the hassle of having to pack everyone and everything up for a trip. Did I mention you can just go back inside to use the bathroom?
Benefits of Backyard Camping With Kids
Backyard camping has many benefits, from getting away from your busy life for a night to building memories with your kids.
- It’s perfect for new campers. If you or the kids have never been camping, this is a great way to take camping for a trial run. If you like it, you can always plan a more adventurous trip next time!
- It’s easier on little kids. If you have toddlers or a baby, a backyard camping trip can still allow for a fun camping experience but with the comforts of home nearby. Picky eaters can stick to their usual foods, a soft bed is a few feet away, and the house is right there if it starts raining!
- It’s easy to pack. What could be easier than having everything you need right near your home? The fact that packing is a breeze! You can go packing without any special equipment; anything you need isn’t far from your home.
- It’s FREE! If you don’t want to spend a single dollar to camp in your backyard, you don’t have to! Cook your meals inside, use sleeping bags and sleep under the stars, and find ways to make what you have work! Plus, there’s no fees to rent a space at a campsite!
Essential Backyard Camping Supplies
Whether you want to replicate a campfire or just use what you already use for camping at home, I’ve compiled a list of some of our favorite camping gear that’s perfect for your backyard campout.
Here is a list of items you might need to set up a backyard campsite:
- Bug Spray
- Trash Bag
- Books & Games
25 Backyard Camping Activities To Try
- Build a campfire – If you have a backyard fire pit, now is the perfect time to use it! Alternatively, you could fire up the grill to make your “campfire” snacks.
- Roast hot dogs – Is it really a campfire without hot dogs? The first time I took my kids camping, we roasted hot dogs over the fire, just like I did as a kid. Hot dogs never tasted so good!
- Make s’mores – Another classic campfire treat are homemade s’mores. We tried making them with Oreo cookies too!
- Cook a campfire dinner – Feeling ambitious? Why not cook the whole meal over the campfire! Check out my collection of 100 camping recipes here!
- Go for a nature walk – Take a chance to really explore your backyard and see what surprises nature has to offer.
- Scavenger hunt – Grab a free printable backyard insect scavenger hunt here! If the weather turns bad and you need to go inside, you can continue the fun with this Indoor Scavenger Hunt for kids too.
- Practice yoga – Yoga is one of our favorite things to do together as a family. And you can practice yoga anywhere! Check out our guide to yoga poses you can try with kids here.
- Have a game night – Bring the board games outside and get competitive! You could also try lawn games too such as tag, bocci ball, etc.
- Try stargazing – Turn out the lights and let nature put on a show! The kids and I love to look for constellations with the help of a free phone app. Check out our tips for stargazing with kids here.
- Have a picnic – If you’re not ready for an overnight camping experience, you can still have fun by planning a picnic in your backyard!
- Tell ghost stories – The big kids and teens will love this one! Grab a flashlight and have some spooky fun!
- Sing campfire songs – Grab the guitar and sing your favorite sing-along songs!
- Play music – You could also just play some music on a portable speaker!
- Get crafty – If you also have young crafters, this is a great chance to craft together in the great outdoors. See all of our favorite kids crafts here.
- Movie night – Whether it’s watching on a laptop or putting up an outdoor projector, a backyard movie is an incredible experience. You can even invite the neighbors!
- Water balloon fight – If the weather’s hot, grab some water balloons! This gets everyone moving and cools you off at the same time!
- Sprinklers – For more water play, you could set up the backyard sprinklers!
- Pool party – If you have a backyard pool, incorporate it into your camping plans! You could also use a portable kiddie pool for some refreshing water fun.
- Catch fireflies – Just be sure to let them go!
- Play charades – There’s more room to move around outside!
- Have a dance party – This is my youngest daughter’s favorite activity to do together as a family. We play our favorite songs and get groovin!
- Sparklers – Light up the night with these family-friendly fireworks! For fire-less fun, use glow sticks instead!
- Read a book – The kids still want their nightly bedtime story, even if we’re outdoors! Try a camping themed book!
- Journal – While settling down for bed, those quiet moments are a wonderful time for everyone to reflect on the experience.
- Plan your next camping trip – If you had fun backyard camping, why not plan a trip to go camping in a new location? Check out our RV packing list here to find out more about how to plan your first RV camping trip!
Here’s a printable backyard camping checklist with the ideas listed above:
Tips For Setting Up Your “Campsite”
Keeping it simple is key!
Grab a tent that is easy to set up and one that will give everyone the space and comfort that they need.
It’s a good idea to lay down a tarp before you put the tent on the ground so that it adds an extra layer between the ground temperatures and those who are sleeping.
What To Sleep On:
- If you have air mattresses, this is the perfect time to pull them out of storage!
- Yoga mats can also add a layer of cushioning between the ground and your sleeping bags.
TIP: Pick a spot that is close enough to the house for the bathroom but far enough away that you don’t have issues with lights or noises.
Can you camp at home without a tent?
You sure can! The best thing about camping at home is that it can be stressful and simple to do! Even if you don’t have a tent, you can still enjoy a camping experience in other easy ways.
- Hammocks – Using hammocks is a fun way to camp in the backyard! Not only are they super comfortable, but they’ll have a simple way to keep everyone off the hard ground, too. Use a hammock stand or tie the ends to the trees.
- Sleeping Under the Stars – All you really need to have a great camping experience is to have a sleeping bag and a pillow. These two items will ensure that you’ll be able to enjoy sleeping under the stars.
Tips for a Successful Night of Backyard Camping
Above everything else, be sure that you keep it stress-free and fun for everyone involved. Don’t overpack or overthink the camping experience because you’re close enough to the comforts of home that you’ll be able to get anything that you may need or might have overlooked packing.
Enjoy the experience with one another – the night will be a memory that everyone will love!