Keep Kids Busy This Summer with a Backyard Camping Trip
The smell of a campfire, roasting marshmallows and sleeping under the starts can be an unforgettable summer experience for children of any age. Boredom during summer break typically leads to boredom after only a few weeks, but if there are time restraints or if it’s not in the budget for a family camping trip, a backyard camping trip is the perfect solution to having a family adventure close to home.
Camping is a fun experience and even in your backyard, the sounds and sights are different during the night. Backyard camping is a great way to introduce the kids to the experience of camping including how the sights and sounds change at night, cooking over an open fire and telling scary stories with only the light from a lantern, all of the camping experiences, without leaving the comforts of home.
Camping “Trip” Preparations
Prepare for the camping trip as though the family is going camping in an actual campground. Pack everything that you would typically take when camping including the tents, food items, supplies and activities. Carry all items out to the backyard and make it a “rule” that unless it is for a bathroom break, family members are not to enter the house. If you forget items, turn the adventure into an experience just like on an actual camping trip and make do with the items you have.
Setting up Camp
After carrying all supplies out to the backyard, it is time to set-up the campsite. Getting everything ready for the adventure is part of the camping fun. Find a good place to pitch the tent, such as near the side of the house or in the furthest back corner away from the house. The area should be flat and free from tree roots or stones, but the further away from the house you set up camp; the more it will feel as though you are out of the backyard. Encourage the kids to help with the tent set-up and if you have a separate tent for the kids, let them set their own tent up. Although, a comforter and fluffy pillow will be more comfortable, for the full camping effect it is best to use sleeping bags or inflatable mattress.
Cooking and Campfire
The optimum way to have a successful backyard camping trip is to have an open fire; however, if your city ordinances do not allow a fire pit, a small charcoal grill will be the next best thing. A gas grill is nice, however, it will not allow you to have the full camping experience of sitting around a fire telling stories or roasting marshmallows. Position the grill away from the campsite, and have plenty of charcoal on hand to keep the fire going. Eat foods that you would typically eat on a camping trip such as hot dogs and hamburgers and don’t forget the graham crackers, chocolate and marshmallows for the S’Mores.
The games played on a camping trip are part of what makes the experience memorable for kids. Play games such as flashlight tag. To play flashlight tag, the person who is “it” uses the beam of a flashlight to tag the others as they run around the yard and try to avoid getting tagged with the beam. Have a family concert by giving the kids ten minutes to search the yard and find items that can be used to make music and sit around the fire playing the instruments and singing songs. Just before bedtime, sit around the fire and tell ghost stories, remember to keep the stories only slightly scary if you have small children who may scare easily. After settling in the tents for the night, put a movie in either a portable DVD player or run an outdoor safe extension cord to a small television and DVD player in the tent. Watch a funny family movie and eat popcorn that was cooked on the fire before going to sleep for the night.