Camping with kids
Camping with kids doesn’t have to involve renting an extra vehicle to haul your gear. Do a camping test run in your backyard to see if your kids are ready for a weekend away. Pitch a tent, create a backyard scavenger hunt and invite a few friends to camp out without leaving your neighborhood.
The benefits of camping at home
A camping test run will help you and your kids feel more comfortable planning a weekend or week-long camping trip. There’s nothing worse than loading up cars and unpacking tents and then realizing there’s no way your kids are ready to spend a weekend outside with the sound of crickets, wind and the unruly college campers at the campsite across from yours. At home, you have control over the amount of time you spend “camping.” Kids can use their own bathroom, and any real fears of sleeping outside can be addressed by returning to a bedroom inside the house.
Backyard camping supplies
- Sleeping bag/air mattress
- Water bottles
- Small cooler with snacks
- S’mores maker — unless you have a backyard fire pit (Plow & Hearth, $25)
- Scavenger hunt (Etsy, $7)
- Play doh
- Fun sprinkler
- Bathing suits
- Change of clothes & pajamas
Don’t stress about the campout
The more fun you can make the camping dry run, the more fun camping with kids can actually be when you do it for real. Try to emphasize that the campout is like a sleepover outside. If you have close family friends or cousins who might want to try camping, too, invite them to share your backyard! Let kids help with their packing, and remember not to overdo it — really, everything you need is only a few feet from your tent.
Focus on the fun
Kids can hold tent stakes or “direct” tent building, but if their attention span wanes, try a little distraction so they don’t wander back inside. Play doh is the perfect camping toy — it’s the one time you don’t have to worry about getting it stuck on your floors! Set up the sprinkler for a while, and guide them in a scavenger hunt around the backyard — create your own or turn to the printable experts at Etsy. At the end of the evening, huddle around a fire pit or set up a s’mores maker for sweet treats and campfire stories — and hopefully start planning a weekend camping trip!