Over Labor Day weekend, we finally took the kids camping – in our own backyard. And just to make it a little more enjoyable, we invited some friends along.
The event was a huge hit with the kids, so I thought I’d share some pointers should you want to host your own camp out in the future (and I highly recommend you do).
Put up the tents early.
We opted to put up our tents the day before the camp out to air them out and let the kids explore and adjust. Turns out this was a good idea for a couple of reasons.
First, the kids loved playing in and around the tents. And second, one of the two tents we set up was borrowed, meaning it took way longer than it should have to put up.
Establish some ground rules.
We made it very clear to the kids that once we proclaimed that the camp out had begun, no one could go back in the house unless they needed to use the bathroom.
That means you need to pack everything you’ll use (including food) just as you would if you’d gone camping elsewhere.
Not only does this help create a feeling of authenticity for the kids, it also gives you a sense of what’s involved in prepping for a camping adventure away from home.
Make the most of your surroundings.
Consider ways to take advantage of what your home has to offer as a “campsite.”
We cooked dinner on our barbecue, put trash in our trashcans, brought out our portable fire pit for a campfire and s’mores, and used the bathroom when we needed to.
Get busy after dark.
What made this experience extra-special for our kids is that they’re rarely outdoors at night. Getting to be outside after dark was thrill enough. Add to that the fun glow sticks our friends brought and they were in heaven.
We adults wanted more. Like a campfire and s’mores, which the kids certainly didn’t mind.
After we finished eating, we went for a flashlight walk through our neighborhood. More tree climbing and spider web hunting ensued. It’s no wonder the kids had very little trouble falling asleep.
Keep it simple – and fun.
The kids didn’t really need much in the way of entertainment. They climbed a tree, played with glow sticks and flashlights, and read stories to each other in the tent we set up just for them. (The little explorer stayed with mom and dad.)
Between the tents, s’mores, campfire, flashlight walk and sleeping outdoors, the kids had plenty of fun. We considered our little backyard camp out a success.
Reality check: Truth be told, mom and dad were pretty exhausted by the whole experience. The big explorer must have been, too, because he had a complete meltdown at breakfast the following morning.
We also realized that while camping out, the little explorer needs constant attention for his own safety (he managed to take a sip from dad’s wine cup when I turned my back on him at one point!).
All this was good information to learn. We might not be ready to book a night at the campgrounds just yet. But it’s not far off. For now, the backyard suits us all just fine.