We’ve all been missing our camping trips, especially Little D, so Trevor and I decided the grand prize on her homeschool Wheel of Prizes would be a backyard campout. Let me just say that she was squealing when she won that prize! 😍
Of course, we had already been preparing for our backyard adventure because Little D has an uncanny knack for winning the grand prizes pretty quickly. 😆 I pulled together the activities I knew we’d enjoy (Fun 15 listed below) and created our FREE Kids Camp Printables for some of the games we played.
We camp often but had never done so in our own backyard. We decided we wanted to make the experience as similar as possible to the real deal and pack in a ton of fun for her!
We pulled out and placed the camper the day before and “packed” all our things (just like we would for a normal road trip). I prepped our food cooler, and Trevor set up the hammocks and pre-set some activities.
We “set off” just after breakfast on our backyard adventure, and Trevor recorded our day (of course). I have to say, it was lots of fun for all of us (even us parents) and surprisingly relaxing. We would definitely do it again.
So from our backyard camp to yours, here are a few tips we have along with our Fun 15 Camp Activities. Take the ones that work for you and leave the rest!
And our Baird Backyard Campout video is waiting for you at the bottom.
See what you have before buying gear. You don’t need a lot for your backyard camping adventure. Get a tent (or small camper in our case), sleeping bags or blankets, pillows, and flashlights and/or lanterns. The rest of your needs will depend on your meals and activities you choose.
Prep and Pack
Make it feel real. Prep all the food and snacks you’ll need to take with you. Pack your PJs, change of clothes, water, bug repellant, compass, binoculars, books, camera, and maybe a must-have teddy or toy. And let your kiddos help.
Stack hands and Stay out
Stack your hands and make a pact. Have everyone pretend like you are miles and miles from home. Trips inside are for bathroom breaks and emergencies only. Enjoy and treasure this playful family time exploring, story-telling, connecting, and laughing. Turn off all electronics and phones or put them on airplane mode if you are using the camera. Don’t let the kids (or you) sneak in to watch TV. The fewer trips indoors, the more it feels like you are really outdoors.
Pitch with your Kids
Set up your backyard campground with your kids. Do it together. Let them help you set up the site, and teach them the parts of and how to pitch a tent. They can help bring their sleeping bags and such inside, too.
Now, for the fun stuff! (It’s all fun stuff.)
Fun 15 Backyard Camp Activities
Take a hike! (or a walk)
- Nearby Nature Walk – Put on a small pack, grab a couple of water bottles and snacks, and walk around your neighborhood. Or you could hike a nearby trail or explore a local park. You can point out various types of trees, teach them the names of different plants and wildflowers, use your binoculars to see and identify birds, teach your kids to use a compass, and find a creek or pond to skip rocks. Starting with a nature walk will set the theme for the day. And don’t forget to take a bunch of photos of your local adventure.
Activities to do during your nature walk:
- Kids Camp Scavenger Hunt – Take our free Kids Camp Scavenger Hunt list with you on your nature walk and see how many items your kiddos can find. We’ve included a Littles Camp option for your young’uns.
- Bug Hunt – This is exactly what it sounds like. Write a list of insects that are common to your area and then find them with your kids. You can look for pretty butterflies and dragonflies, wiggly earthworms and roly-polies, and icky bugs under rocks and piles of leaves.
- Journey Stick – Journey sticks were originally made to record the story of a journey to be retold later. Have each child find a large stick before your nature walk. You can gather items and treasures during your hike and attach and decorate the sticks back at camp with paint, yarn, and tape, or take a few long pieces of yarn with you on your walk and bind the treasures to the sticks as you find them. Journey sticks can be made as a memento of a hike, to record a family trip, or even collect memories from a whole season (like a summer break).
- Nature Bracelet – Before starting your nature walk, wrap your child’s wrist (not too tight) with duct tape, sticky side out. (I also tie my daughter’s long hair into a ponytail to avoid a hair cut. 😆) Make sure your family can recognize poison ivy and poison oak. Then during your walk, have your kids gather pretty outdoor treasures to attach to their bracelets. Don’t pick your neighbors’ flowers without permission! 😁 Once back at camp, you can carefully cut them off when they are finished wearing them.
Back at Camp:
- Kids Camp Bingo – Print out our free Kids Camp Bingo set on cardstock, cut out the calling cards, and give players beans, pennies, or poker chips to use as markers. First player with 5 in a row and calls out “BINGO!” wins. (Prizes optional. A simple prize we use is a marshmallow.)
- Kids Camp Charades – Print and cut our free Kids Camp Charades pages. We have included a page of blanks for you to write your own ideas for cards.
- Ladder Toss – Grab a medium-sized ladder. Label each step of the ladder with an increasing point amount (10, 20, 30, etc.) using construction paper and tape. Toss frisbees, balls, or bean bags through the steps of the ladder. You can keep score and award an optional marshmallow prize.
- Bucket Brigade – Grab four buckets. Fill two with water and draw a fill line (with marker or tape) on the inside of the other two buckets at the same height. Place the buckets the same distance apart. Split your family into two teams and give each player a small cup (same size). Then “ready, set, go!” and each team uses their little cups to fill the empty bucket to the line. Get ready to get wet!
- Dance Mania – Get a patio or camp chair for each player and turn on some tunes. Your youngest starts the game by standing and dancing. When she taps other players, they stand and dance, too. When she calls “Dance off!” everyone dances as fast as they can. (You should video this. 😂) When she calls “Dance over,” everyone races to a seat. The last player seated starts the next round.
- Flashlight Finders – After dark, hide a bag of marshmallows (or small prize of your choice) in your backyard and send the kiddos off with flashlights to find it. If they need a bit of help, you can say “getting lighter” when close and “getting darker” when they are moving away from it.
- Fancy S’mores – There’s no such thing as camping without s’mores. I won’t hear of it! In fact, let’s think BIGGER!! You can get craaazy with your fillings. Graham crackers, DARK chocolate, and marshmallows are the start. Consider adding or substituting Oreos, Nutter Butters, donuts (that’s right), rice crispy treats, chocolate chip cookies, peanut butter cookies, any Girl Scout cookie, a sprinkle of cinnamon, smear of peanut butter, Nutella, cookie butter, sliced bananas, salted caramel, Peeps marshmallows (don’t burn them 😂), and I’ll stop with peanut butter cups (freaking delicious).
- Round the Campfire Stories – Gather ’round your “campfire” (lantern on a blanket or home firepit) with a flashlight. You can start your own spooky story with the flashlight under your chin and then pass it to the next person to build on the story. Kids tend to bring out unexpected laughs and fun with this activity.
- Stargazing – When we are out camping in remote areas, after dark, I lean back and soak up our moon and stars. If you live in an area with gorgeous dark skies, that is something special. But even if you live in the city, you can still throw down a blanket and look up at the stars and learn about our constellations. And in the city or country, it’s fun using a constellation app (they have free options) to see celestial objects, constellations, and satellites moving across our sky.
- Backyard Breakfast – An outdoor breakfast together is a great way to close your backyard campout. Our final day camp breakfast is always pancakes on the griddle. (I throw together the dry ingredients at home.) Find something your family will enjoy, and sit and savor your breakfast while chatting about your favorite parts of your backyard adventure.
There’s so many ways to enjoy your campout. Hang a hammock, grab a book, turn on some country tunes… whatever you choose to do, remember you’re camping. Relax, have fun, breathe in life, and soak up this time with your family.
And if you haven’t already, jump over to grab your FREE Kids Camp Printables! See you soon!