This past Father’s Day weekend my husband decided he wanted to take our 4 year old, Noah, on a backyard camping adventure. They had been talking about it for awhile, so we figured Father’s Day was the perfect time for some father-son bonding! What I love most about this idea is the fact that it’s an experience. You are creating a fun summer memory right in your own backyard – without a hefty price tag! And the best part? You don’t even need a campfire to do so – making this a fun summer activity you can enjoy in almost any backyard.
Before the fun begins, you’ll want to gather all of your basic camping supplies. Obviously, you don’t need to take the entire kitchen with you because you’ll be able to come in/out of the house as needed; however, try to take out everything you think you’ll need. Limiting trips inside the house (minus bathroom breaks) will really make it feel like camping!
- Lantern and/or flashlight
- Sleeping bags + pillows
- Air mattress (optional, but ideal for comfort)
- Water + food + snacks + utensils
- Any camping activity supplies
Noah really wanted to sleep in his sleeping bag that he got for Christmas last year; however, we still decided to use an air mattress in addition to the sleeping bags (hello, bad back). Our 3-person tent (pictured below) was big enough to hold a queen size air mattress with plenty of room to spare.
Once you’re all set up, you’re ready for your backyard campout to begin! We’re keeping things simple here – no elaborate planning or campfire needed. These 5 backyard camping activities involve very little prep while still allowing for good ole’ summertime fun!
Watch Sid’s Backyard Campout Get your kids excited about their camping adventure by starting out the evening watching Sid’s Backyard Campout. This fun suggestion came from my friend Kristin over at Grace, Coffee & Mascara. Normally I’d say no to all electronics during camping; however, this short movie is the perfect way to teach your kids what camping is all about. My son absolutely loved watching this, and still frequently requests to watch it. I love the fun science lessons that Sid teaches, too!
Have a backyard cookout Nothing says camping quite like a summer cookout. Grill up some hotdogs along with your other favorite camping treats. Think campfire food – foil packet meals, trail mix, & campfire cones! You don’t need an actual campfire to enjoy camping food.
Make mini s’mores pots Want to make s’mores but don’t have a fire pit? These DIY mini s’mores pots are the perfect solution! They take only minutes to set up and are so easy to make. You’ll probably wonder why you didn’t start making s’mores this way sooner!
Go on a nature scavenger hunt You can choose to do this while it’s still light out or opt for a nighttime scavenger hunt by flashlight! If you have more than one kiddo participating in your backyard campout, you may want to try a game of flashlight tag, too!
Read books by lantern Grab a big pile of books to read with your child. Bonus if the books are camping or nature themed! Besides making s’mores, this may have been Noah’s favorite part of the entire camp out. He absolutely loved picking out his fave books and reading by the light of the lantern.
Oh, and in case you’re wondering where Noah’s little sister was, she was inside with Mommy. London was still sleeping in her crib at the time (we recently transitioned her to a big girl bed), so I decided to stay inside with her while the boys had their fun out in the yard! She will get to join in the fun next year though!
I’m so glad that Noah got to experience the fun of backyard camping on Father’s Day. The boys enjoyed it so much that they plan to make this a yearly Father’s Day weekend tradition! And who knows, maybe one day the girls will join in on the fun and we’ll actually go on a real camping trip as a family.
Have you gone on a backyard camping adventure with your kids? What camping activities did they enjoy?