Plan a fun backyard camping activity for kids!

Before the frosts and school start, plan a fun kids camping activity in your backyard. Invite some friends and neighbors to backyard camp. A small group of children is recommended, 6 to 8 school-age children. Borrow several tents, at least one for every 2-3 children (unless you have a large family tent!), OR lay flat sheets on a clothesline to make a tent.

Have the children make marquee-shaped announcements that include information such as:

  • Backyard camp date
  • Time to show up
  • What to bring like: sleeping bag, pillow, pajamas, toothbrush
  • Time to be picked up the next morning
  • Companion information

When the kids show up for the kids’ camp activity, plan a barbecue with hot dogs on a stick, French fries, vegetable sticks and salsa, and nutritious drinks. Make cupcakes decorated with shredded coconut (dyed with green food coloring for “grass”) and paper “tents” on top. Put the child’s name on each “store.”

Before dark, go over safety tips, where to locate the bathroom at night, and even a place where they can go to sleep if they need to. Give each camper a flashlight or small stick. Keep bug spray and a first aid kit handy.

After dark, play flashlight tag games and finger shadows. Gather the group in a circle (or semi-circle) and place a camping lantern in the center. Turn off the light and tell “scary camp stories.” Or play a storytelling game in which the guest of honor (the child whose backyard is being used) begins a “fantasy tale” and each person around the circle has to add to the story until they are done with the guest of honor. With a small group, it can be fun to circle the group several times before finishing the story.

If the night is clear and cloudless, have everyone lie on their back and look up at the night sky. Who can find the pole star, Polaris? Who can locate the Big Dipper and the Little Dipper? Look for the constellations in the summer sky in your area. See if they can locate any of them.

In the morning, before the campers go home, serve breakfast and have everyone “pack up.” If you want to send home small party favors, a whistle, a compass and a small stick are popular with children.

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