Camping in your backyard can be a lot of fun, and age is no bar, no matter how old you are. Camping is excellent for keeping the kids entertained, it offers opportunities to check the night sky, and it lets you and guests be noisier than usual. Camping in your backyard also enables you to have friends stay over who may not otherwise fit inside the home. All you need are tents, warm clothes, snacks, sleeping bags, a campfire, and a few fun activities.
Set up your tent
Depending on the family members and guests, you may need more than one. Ask friends to bring tents if required. If you are a beginner to camping, follow the instructions provided with the canopy to make a tent.
Use a good quality tent. This is not the right time for the beach shade. It must be a tent you’d camp in, to protect you from the rain, bugs, and wind.
Prepare your bedding
Put something on the floor to feel soft to lie on: camping cots, a blow-up air mattress, a thick comforter, yoga mats, or couch cushions work well too. Add pillows and lightweight sleeping bags and cotton blankets for summer warmth, especially if you live where the night temperatures lower considerably.
Fill the tent
Add soft or stuffed animals for the kids. Put a few lanterns, flashlights, or glow sticks intent as well. You can set out decks of cards or board games in case it gets chilly.
Arrange a seating area
If you have a patio set or a picnic table, that will work best. You can even set up lawn chairs and a small table to set out drinks and food. A better low-maintenance option is to lay out a blanket in the sun, so that you and your friends can relax, eat, and chat. Be sure the grass isn’t wet!
Do a sweep for doggy do-do, anthills, prickles, or other irritants and nasties, before laying out the seating area, or it might spoil the experience.
Bring out the bug spray.
Mosquito bites will put a damper on the fun, so be sure to get plenty of bug repellant for you and your guests. You might use a bug zapper or tiki torches filled with citronella or light citronella candles to keep pesky bugs away. Ensure that children know not to touch or play with bug zappers, tiki torches or citronella candles. Even bug spray can be dangerous if sprayed in the eyes or ingested. Make sure an adult supervises and applies the products for children.
Set food and drinks
Prepare ahead of time, or even order out. Do have a few bags of chips, or other snack items set out, as well as a cooler full of ice with a variety of drinks. Pizza is a good option with a large group of people. For summer afternoons you can make homemade treats, including:
- Hot dogs
- Chocolate chip cookies
Light a bonfire
A warm fire is a camping classic. Keep a close eye on your bonfire. Follow all fire safety precautions, keep a bucket of water handy, and never leave the campfire unattended.
If space doesn’t allow for a bonfire, consider using a terracotta pot as a fire pit. Line your container with aluminium foil, fill it with charcoal, and light it up. This will allow you to roast s’ mores or other items, giving you that authentic camping feel.
Make sure children must be supervised by adults when near an open flame. Consider drawing a circle around bonfire or firepit, and teach children not to cross the line.
Use your fire for food and fun.
Besides keeping warm, you can roast marshmallows or hot dogs on the campfire. It is also a great place just to cosy up and stare at the flames.
You might ask children to point out shapes in the flames or coals and see where their imaginations take them, which is similar to finding forms in clouds.
The campfire is also an excellent location for group activities such as telling stories or singing songs.
Turn the lawn into a Twister board.
Cut a circle out of your pizza box and use it as a template to spray different coloured rings on your lawn. You’ll need four to six different colours to make rows of four to six circles each, each row having its colour.
Use a spinner from the game, or make your own with paper and markers. Someone could even call out the colours and body parts at random (e.g., right foot blue, left-hand yellow, etc.)
Use marking spray paint if you want to wash away the makeup after your camp out quickly.
Hold a nature scavenger hunt.
Make a list of stuff likely to be found in the yard and hand out copies to everyone who wants to play. This game works well individually as well as in teams. You can see who may find the most items, or who may find items the fastest. Give out a small not-so-costly prize to the winner(s), such as candy or glow sticks.
Ideas for the list include a four-leaf clover, a ladybug, something yellow, two identical leaves, a feather, a round rock, etc.
Turn on the music
Bring a stereo or boombox outside, or plug the phone into a compatible projection speaker. Music will liven up camp-out in no time. Take turns as DJ to play favourite tunes. You can even start a dance party!
If you have close neighbours, try to quiet down as the evening progresses. Your neighbours may have small children who are trying to sleep. Don’t play loud, booming music all night, especially after 9-10:00 pm.
Have a camera handy to take silly snapshots of you, your kids, your family members, and friends. Take a large group shot with everyone smiling and laughing. Be sure to make copies for everybody present!
You might hang a picture frame from a tree branch to create a very own photo booth.
Geocaching is an outdoor real-world treasure hunt in which you travel to a specific spot and find containers full of “treasure” left by others. If you take something from a cache, as a general rule, you should leave something of similar value in its place. You’ll need a smartphone or handheld GPS for the activity. You can download the geocaching app by visiting http://www.geocaching.com to find a source for the caches.
Screen a favourite or a newly released movie
If you possess a video projector, you can hang a sheet in the yard like a screen and watch a movie outside beside your tent. In keeping with the theme, you could even watch a video about camping. Movies like Camp Rock or The Parent Trap are great choices if you are camping with kids, while Without A Paddle and Bushwhacked are better for older audiences.
Stargazing is high wind-down activity. For this, just spread out blankets on the grass and lay down quietly to look at the stars. You can teach little ones how to find prominent constellations, like Orion or see who can point out the most constellations. Apps such as “Sky Map” shows the name of the star and constellation by using the location in real-time.