Camping is a favorite summertime activity for kids. Even if you don’t have the time, money, or inclination to load up the camping equipment and head to the woods, your kids can still experience the joy of a campout…in the backyard! Here’s a recipe to make it work!

Checklist for a Campout

  • 1 Tent (improvise with sheets and a tree, if you have to)
  • Sleeping Bags
  • Pillows
  • Air mattress (optional, but recommended, if you have bad knees)
  • Flashlight
  • Fire (use the barbecue, if you don’t have a fire pit)
  • Ingredients for S’mores (graham crackers, chocolate bars, marshmallows)
  • Wire or clean stick

How to Set Up Your Camp

Have the kids help you set up the tent. Make sure you scope out a nice flat spot in the yard. If you don’t have a tent, improvise! When I was a kid, my friends and I tied a couple of blankets together and draped them over a tree branch.

Inflate your air mattress, if you’re using one, and place the mattress, sleeping bags, and pillows in the tent, along with the flashlight.

If you want, roast hot dogs on the grill and have dinner outside, to make this an authentic camping experience. When the sun sets, roast marshmallows over the fire (or barbecue).

Before it’s time to turn in for the night, gather ‘round the fire (or around the flashlight in the tent) and sing songs, tell scary stories or try to find the Big Dipper in the sky. Make sure you spend some time talking. Time in the dark, away from the television and computer, is a great time to find out what’s on your child’s mind.

In the morning cook up some flapjacks, in the kitchen, of course. The benefit of backyard camping is the modern conveniences in the house a few feet away!

Photo by makelessnoise.