Tips for the Ultimate Backyard Campout

Want to get your kids outside this summer? Try bringing the camp lifestyle home. The experts at the Camping and Education Foundation have put together a list of tips to help parents throw the ultimate backyard campout that goes beyond flipping burgers and singing camp fire songs.

  1. Go Beyond the Essentials. Yes, you need a tent, sleeping bags and snacks, but in order to make this backyard camp out one your family will remember, try to personalize it to your family’s liking. Does your child like astronomy? Host an astronomy-themed campout complete with star-gazing charts and a telescope.
  2. Make a Plan. Backyard campouts are intended to be a relaxing and family-oriented event but with different ages involved, it is important to plan. Design activities that are age based, such as tag for younger children and more competitive races for older kids. By finding activities that suit all the ages involved, everyone will be happy.
  3. Get the Kids Involved. One of the most important lessons learned at camp is independence. This lesson can be down scaled and applied to a family campout. Involve your kids in the planning process by assigning each child a different job. Try to sit back as much as possible and watch them take charge of their job. Get the whole family involved, especially during clean-up which is the least fun part. Instead of doing dishes inside, you can fill up a big pot of water and clean the dishes outside.
  4. Make the Food Fun. A camp out is not complete without the traditional delicious campout meals. Involve the family in this as well! Kids love to cook and helping is the best way to learn, even if it is just stirring a pot. If possible, suggest building a makeshift fireplace out of rocks and setting the grill rack on top instead of using the whole grill.
  5. No Technology Zone. Disconnect! This goes for parents as well as kids. Take the camp out back to a simpler time and buy a disposable camera to capture the fun moments. Kids and parents will have a fun time snapping pictures.
  6. Positive Reinforcement. Plan activities that challenge your family. This is another valuable lesson taught at camp. Campers are expected to take part in daily activities that at first might challenge them, however with positive encouragement campers are taught that they can do something beyond their comfort zone. This leads to campers with a higher sense of self worth. The same can be applied to a family campout. With their parents encouraging them to do something difficult, kids will feel like they have someone in their corner cheering them on.
  7. Time to Talk. At camp kids are encouraged to get to know different campers from all over the country. The same can be said for your family. With school, work and different activities taking up the day it can sometimes be difficult to take the time to talk. At the camp out, have your family connect by sharing silly stories, new interests and positive feelings for one another.

If doing it yourself sounds too overwhelming, look for a family campout night hosted by your local park district!