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Backyard Camping

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When the summertime arrives, so do the sounds and smell of a campfire! Camping is an activity loved by many and while we may have a favorite campground we’re itching to get back to – we can always have our very own campout at home or in the backyard.

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Just like a regular camping trip away, work together from start to finish, and think outside of the box to make the perfect campsite for your space and family.

  • Scout out your campsite and get set up. Backyard camping is great for children, as it introduces them to sleeping in a new environment while still being close to home. If backyard space is limited, look to other areas. Do you have a patio or a balcony? What about indoors near an open window or right in the living room? Whether you are new to camping or a seasoned outdoorist – think outside the box and sent up camp in a place that feels the best for you.
    • Pitch or make a tent. If you have a tent that your family uses on regular camping trips, set it up – even if indoors! If you don’t, you can make one in a couple of ways. If outdoors you can tie a rope between two trees and drape a blanket over it or make an old-fashioned blanket fort indoors.
    • Make it cozy. Line the bottom of the tent with yoga mats or sleeping bags to add cushioning. Gather blankets, pillows, and stuffed animals for added comfort and an extra layer of cozy. Hang old holiday lights, move houseplants nearby if indoors, or invite children to pick out an item they love to make the space feel more special to them.


  • Gather together. Gather around the “campfire” and enjoy food, stories, and conversation with one another.
    • Build a campfire. While most of us can’t safely have an actual campfire at home, get creative, and set up a gathering space. Set a candle in the middle of a small table if outdoors, find a campfire video online and play in the background if indoors, or draw or craft a play campfire!
    • Cook up some grub. Plan your meals and make ahead for your campout as you would if you were away.
      • Prep foil-packet meals that can be heated up in the oven (e.g. chicken and vegetable stir fry, grilled cheese, etc.) or cold items that can be easily pulled out of the fridge and enjoyed at your campsite (e.g. overnight oats, smoothies, salad cups, yogurt, and homemade granola, etc.
      • Invite children to help prepare and pack the food away or work on easy snack items like trail mix.
      • Use a cooler to pack sandwiches, snacks, and beverages to have on hand and nearby to your tent.


  • Plan some fun. Use this time to connect as a family and plan some activities that everyone will enjoy. Invite each family member to pick one activity they love most or one they want to give a try.
    • Pull out board games, cards or old-fashioned favorites like Simon Says for a game night under the stars or blanket fort in the living room.
    • If you aren’t already, make time for some outdoor exploration – from neighborhood nature walks to stargazing, there is bound to be something for everyone.
    • Create space to just talk. Talking with children about emotions helps them develop both socially and emotionally. Check in to see how everyone is doing or invite everyone to share two feelings they had during the week.


Treat your campout as you would a trip Encourage children to pack a backpack with everything they need for the “trip” and invite them to use their imagination about where the campsite might actually be. From packing to setting up, create a new world even if just for a night.

Can’t spend the whole night outdoors? Try indoors or set up space for children to play, explore, and day-camp.

When camping outdoors, even at home, things become even more unfamiliar in the dark so invite children to keep a lantern nearby or favorite stuffed animal that brings them comfort.

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