Photo Credit: @jessieolean

After having been essentially cooped up at home for over three months now, our family is definitely looking for ways to keep kiddos entertained. Though some of our usual haunts are open again, we are still preferring to stay home when it’s possible. That means putting a twist on our normal at-home activities! “Drive-in” movies, indoor bowling, and scavenger hunts are all great activities to do at home – that you might normally do somewhere else.

Our latest family activity? Backyard camping with kids! Though we might normally camp out at a state park or campground, the thought of using a public campground bathroom right now sends me into a full-blown panic. And you know what? My kids have just as much fun sleeping in a tent in our backyard as they do somewhere else! Plus, there’s an added bonus of being able to sneak into your cozy bed if the weather turns, a kiddo gets cranky, or your limbs become a buffet for mosquitos.

Here are 5 helpful hints to have a successful camping with kids experience in your own backyard:

1. Pack the necessities that you would pack for any other overnight experience

Still bring out pajamas, changes of clothes, etc. Don’t forget the tent, pillows and sleeping bags! If you’re uncomfortable on the ground, try putting your sleeping bag on top of a yoga mat or even an air mattress. If your kiddo is uncomfortable, consider a toddler cot. We actually travel with this often – it is perfect for a night in a hotel, spending the night at a friend’s house, or a backyard campout!

camping with kids
Photo Credit @sophia.elrae

2. Although it might definitely will take longer, let your kids help set up!

Camping with kids is as much about learning as it is the outdoor experience. Even young kids can help pitch the tent, unroll sleeping bags, and feel a sense of ownership over the experience. If you have a fire pit in your yard, let them learn about fire safety and safe fire-starting practices.

3. Plan plenty of games or activities for your family to enjoy!

Any yard games you already have will be perfect for a campout: bean bag toss, croquet, and ring toss can all be fun family activities. If you don’t already have outdoor games, you’d be surprised how easily you can improvise! You can spray paint circles on the grass for bean bag toss. Use pool rings and a stick for ring toss, or spray paint rocks for tic-tac-toe. Scavenger hunts are also great activities for the backyard or a walk around the neighborhood!

getting kids outside camping with kids
Photo Credit @northcountrylittles

4. Make sure you have supplies for dessert!

You can’t go camping without smores or grilled banana boats. No fire pit in your backyard? No problem! Bake banana boats in the oven before you go out or in a foil packet on the grill. You can even roast marshmallows over your grill.

camping with kids
Photo Credit @themooremanner

5. Save some energy for after the sun sets!

Catch fireflies, use binoculars to stargaze, or read a book by flashlight. If you happen to have a projector and light-colored bedsheet, watching a movie outside in a tent is WAY cooler than inside your living room. Finally, glow sticks are a mom’s best friend. Wear them and have a dance party in the dark or use them as nightlights – either way, your kids will have a blast.

I hope this helps bring a little family fun to your summer – a summer that has otherwise likely been very challenging! It might even become an annual family tradition! If you have other backyard camping tips with kids, comment below!


Stacy grew up in Minnesota but spent the next several years of her life traversing the globe, temporarily setting down roots anywhere and everywhere. Stacy is extremely passionate about the world of adoption and foster care, having spent a year in Uganda adopting her oldest daughter in 2008. Stacy married her husband Jesse in 2011, and they moved to Oklahoma City to grow their family. They currently have three children; a 12-year-old girl, a 6-year-old boy, and a 1-year-old boy. Though she will be parenting for the rest of her natural days, she deeply appreciates the age differences between her kids. Stacy obtained a Master’s degree in child psychology in 2007, but currently uses it only on her own children! A stay-at-home mama since Baby #3 was born, Stacy has stayed busy keeping her children alive and relatively entertained. She loves her little crazy crew fiercely and uses writing as her creative outlet. When she’s not chasing her kiddos, Stacy is likely traveling or daydreaming about traveling. She also enjoys coffee shops, copious amounts of “cop drama” shows, and perusing Pinterest for ideas that have little chance of ever getting done. But they’re good to have. Just in case.

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