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Backyard camping for kids is the first step in getting them outside.

Updated: May 3, 2022

Backyard camping is the best way to get your kids outdoors more often.

It is spring and we are ready for the camping season to get started. The youth of today need a little help to get outside and here are some great ideas on how to do it.

"Children today spend an average of 6 hours each day in front of the computer and TV but less than 4 minutes a day in unstructured outdoor play. (Chesapeake Bay Foundation)"

Step 1

Start by looking for reasons to camp in your yard. We just got through a brutal winter and need a reason to get outside with the kids. When you look at the forecast and this weekend is going to be 70 degrees its time to move. Now my kids are easy to convince because we spend most of our weekends rving and being outside. But if you are not the outdoorsy type a backyard campground it the first step into camping. It is close not travel needed and you have all the amenities of home. If you have a tent that is ideal if not grab one for $100 it cheaper than a hotel.

Step 2

Get some blankets, pillows and sleeping bags for your adventure outside. My wife hates sleeping on the groud in a cold damp place. Thats fine she can go sleep on her comfy bed while I hang out with the kids. Have plenty of blankets. If you really have a nice night and you have some trees in your backyard try hammock camping. Hammocks are ridiculously comfortable and I personally get a really nice sleep in one of them.

  • Almost 50% of children aged 8-16 years watch 3-5 hours of television a day. These kids who watch the most hours of television have the highest incidence of obesity. (Word on Health, “Childhood Obesity on the Rise”: Torgan, Carol, June 2002)

Step 3

Make a fire and have some mt pies, smores, or hot dogs. Plan on making your meal outside. There are millions of campfire recipes that are amazing. Just hop on pinterest and you will have one that everyone will enjoy in just minutes. One of our favorites is cherry chocolate marshmallow mt pie. I know it sounds a little sweet and it is but the kids love it and makes them happy. Just sitting around a fire with your kids you will start conversations and talks that you could never have if they were in their rooms or sitting in front of a video game.

Step 4

Leave the phones and wifi in the house. Turn of your wifi if you need to. You can do it no facebook no instagram what no tick tock to lull you to sleep. Sometimes this is even better for the parents to unplug. Thats one of the joys I love with camping getting away from all the things that need done around the house. The laundry, the cooking, the cleaning the dishes. Think about it though one night away in the backyard can bring your family together. One night of not doing the dishes will be ok.

  • Increased study of science and nature, especially in the very young, has proved in studies extremely beneficial for cognitive functioning, reduced symptoms of attention deficit disorder, increased self-discipline, and emotional well being. (Chesapeake Bay Foundation)

Step 5

Get out the games. If you have still have some sunlight bring out their favorite board games or cards. Here is a post I have on some of our favorite games while camping. This is a great way to interact with your kids and enjoy their company.

Step 6

Let them make the fire. Yes helicoptering parents let your kids help making a fire. With parent supervision, but they will love this. We got a set of flint and steel for our kids one Christmas because we watch a lot of survivor. They would play with that flint and steel for hours trying to make a fire. It was awesome they had so much fun and learning a life skill to boot. And if they ever get on Survivor they are gonna crush the fire making challenge.

Step 7 Let them stay up

Its one night let them stay up as long as they want. Oh but they are going to be so grumpy tomorrow. Yes maybe they will be, but they will always remember staying up late in the backyard forever. It also gives you a better chance to get them to do it again.

Helpful Tips:

Show them the stars

Buy a cheap $20 telescope and let them look at the stars. Get a constellation app on your phone and show them how cool the sky is. They never to get to see those things in the sky because when it gets dark it time for bed.

Just sit in silence

So rarely are we afforded silence in our world. For most of us, it has to come as a conscious effort. Mediatation is about the only time I get any silence, but its nice. In this crazy over stimulated world its nice to just sit and relax. Just listening to the outdoors can be amazing.

Bring the pets

While some trips may be more hassle with a pet, your backyard is the perfect spot to have a pet join you. They will be comfortable and may even snuggle up for some sleeping in the tent.

Invite your neighbors or friends

Ok there might not be enough room for them in the tent, but have them over for the fire. Community may be the thing we are missing most in this post COVID era. Have people over and enjoy the company of others.

Observe the Wildlife

From birds to squirrels take a look in your backyard and study an animal for 20 minutes. Grab a pair of binoculars and really take a closer look. Watching their movements and actions can be an exciting time.


This is a great way to get your kids creative side out. Create an elaborate scenario where the kids are camping and come up against a enemy or bear. What would they do how can they solve this problem? Your child's mind will run wild with ideas of what to do and when. Its also amazing to me the way each different kid thinks and reacts to the same problem.

Healthy and happy kids

This is a perfect way to introduce camping and adventure into a small child's life. There is so much to see in this beautiful world. Getting your kids outside to see part of it is the first step in a long journey of exploration. It is your responibility as a parent to get your kids doing something out of the ordinary. Your kids will love it just be prepared to take some flack from other parents who are not as thrilled as you sleeping on grass clippings in the yard.


Backyard camping can help kids get over the fear of the dark. It doesn't matter how many kids you have some may have reservations about sleeping outside in the dark. This will help them grow stronger and be more self reliant young adults. If you like this article please share on social media or signup for my weekly newsletter!!!

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