BACKYARD CAMPING FOR BEGINNERS

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It’s no secret that camping is a boatload of fun for kids – sleeping outside, making s’mores, and telling stories around the fire?! How much better could it get! Camping is also a great opportunity to get kids away from electronics and spend time in the outdoors while creating lasting family memories. However, camping at a campground can be expensive, and it can be frightening for young children to feel alone in the outdoors away from the comforts of home. Backyard camping provides all the fun of camping without the added price tag while keeping your youngsters comfortable! It is a great idea for both first-time campers who need a little easing-in to sleeping in the great outdoors and those who are comfortable in the wilderness but want that same fun without the hassle. Keep reading for some ideas on how to have the best backyard camp out ever!

The Tent

Sleeping in a tent is one of the most exciting things about camping for many kids. Set up the tent in a flat, grassy area of your yard. Let your kids help by rolling out the sleeping bags and choosing some fun toys and games to bring with them! Lay a yoga mat or camping mat beneath the sleeping bags, especially if the grass in your yard is thin. Because your tent will be close to the house, you may even want to bring out a small table and some chairs that kids can sit at to play games by the tent.

Activities

Even though it’s your own yard, you can still enjoy nature while backyard camping!

  • Play “Camping Bingo” by making a bingo card with items to cross off such as a pine cone, a rock that looks like something, a twig that looks like a letter, or a weed. Give kids 15 minutes to collect as many items as they can from your yard (without disturbing any living things!) and then see who is the first to get bingo by taping found objects to their bingo card.
  • Have kids draw pictures of the birds, trees, and plants they see or make leaf drawings by putting a leaf under a piece of paper and coloring over it with the side of a crayon with its label peeled off.
  • When night comes, play flashlight tag and then gather around the campfire to use the flashlights as props in telling scary stories. To add to the ambiance, put glow sticks in mason jars to make colorful DIY lanterns.

 Cooking on the Fire

One of the best parts of backyard camping is that it’s so easy to build a “campfire” if you have a built-in fire pit as part of your yard’s hardscape or a portable one! Although the fire can be a dangerous place for young kids, help them learn about fire safety before your big camp out and get them involved by making fire starters. These can be made very simply using toilet paper tubes and stuffing them with lint from your clothes dryer. When it comes to food, campfires are no longer just for roasting marshmallows (though, they are a stable that is not to be missed)! You can cook gourmet meals in foil packets over the open flame.

For surefire hit for both kids and adults, try cooking pizza over the open flame!

  • Cut a loaf of French bread in half and then again like you’re cutting it open to make a sandwich but slice all the way through. The four sections created will each serve as a pizza crust.
  • Spread pizza sauce, mozzarella cheese, and your favorite toppings on the bred (you can pre-grill vegetables like bell peppers and onions in a foil packet and put those on top for an extra tasty treat!)
  • Wrap the bread loosely with aluminum foil and place it on the fire until the crust gets nice and toasty and the cheese is melted.
  • These will be HOT, so wait until they’re cool to eat!

While these ideas provide a jumping off point for your backyard adventure, be sure to take advantage of the space you have and make your camp out your own! Add local, seasonal produce to campfire recipes or maybe even pick some herbs from your own garden. If your family loves sports, see if you can invent a new one using things you find in nature. Nature has so much to offer that even your own backyard can provide a wildly enjoyable camping experience!