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Planning a Backyard Campout for the Kids: 5 Fun Activities


If there’s one thing little kids get excited about, it’s camping. Sleeping outside, sitting around the camp fire and playing with friends … what could be better? If your youngster absolutely loves camping, there is no reason why he or she has to wait until the annual family trip rolls around, especially since there are still some warm fall days ahead. Instead, mom and dad can set up a campout right at home, in the backyard, complete with plenty of fun activities.

Whether the little ones will sleep in their treehouse swing set, on the deck under the retractable awning, in the gazebo or in an old-fashioned tent, they are guaranteed to make great memories during a backyard campout. Set them up with sleeping bags and pillows, and stick around to supervise and lead them in games.

Not a fan of sleeping outdoors? You can always have a pretend “campout” inside! Put the couch and chairs together with a blanket over the top for an awesome pretend “tent” or fort; turn off all the lights and use candles; ditch the TV and the electronics; etc.

Here’s a list of activities to get you started. They’re great for a traditional campout or the indoor version. Don’t forget to ask the kids for suggestions, too!

      1. Make a campfire — This one’s a no-brainer! A good campfire makes a backyard campout all the more memorable. If you have a fire pit at your home, take advantage and use it. If not, you may want take this opportunity to teach the kids how to build a fire safely. Allow them to find stones for the firebed, and the proper branches for lighting and feeding the fire. Then show them how to light the fire, and later, how to properly extinguish it. In the meantime, have fun roasting marshmallows (don’t forget roasting sticks!) and exchanging scary stories.
      2. Find the Big Dipper — Brush up on your constellations and guide the kids as they look for stars in the night sky. Better yet, look through a telescope and get a close-up of the moon and the North Star. 
      3. Scavenger Hunt — This is a good activity to do before nightfall, as you won’t have to limit it to a confined area if there’s daylight. Being that Halloween is right around the corner, we recommend making your scavenger hunt a bit spooky. Have the kids find a skeleton head, a monster’s footprint, a witch’s cauldron, and of course, candy! There are plenty of Halloween scavenger hunt games available on Pinterest.
      4. Enjoy a Hot Dinner — Make the most of that crackling fire and enjoy a campout favorite — beans and franks. And plan on s’mores for dessert, of course! 
      5. Games — After dinner and stargazing, but before bedtime, let the kids have their pick on one final activity: Playing cards, acting out for charades, or taking part in some other type of group activity. 

Don’t forget to take plenty of pictures during your kids’ first backyard campout. We promise they’ll have so much fun, they’ll want to make it a regular activity!