Summer is in full swing, but most of us are still either forced to stay home or have chosen to stay indoors for our family’s safety. While COVID-19 vaccination roll-outs are picking up across the country, it’s still risky to go outside, knowing that many people are still reluctant to get vaccinated.
But parents need to come up with ingenious ways to keep their kids engaged and happy during summer. And while allowing your kids to be bored can actually benefit them, as boredom helps with self-awareness, creative process, and imagination.
But since it’s summer and there’s plenty of downtime, it’s the perfect excuse to do backyard camping with your little ones.
Camping, when done right, can teach kids a number of things, from practical skills like building fires, cooking, and pitching a tent to more idealistic things appreciating nature and becoming a team player. It can also help improve mood and relieve stress, which has been piling up during the pandemic. Plus, it’s the perfect opportunity for you to get to know your kids better and make memories without distractions like video games and smartphones.
Ways to make backyard camping fun
- Set up a comfortable tent – if you don’t have a tent yet, you can easily buy or rent one online. If you want something more spacious, comfortable, and stylish, you can try glamping gear for rent online. You can even use your own mattress if you’re not cool with the idea of sleeping on hard, cold ground.
- Hang string lights – create a warm and inviting atmosphere by hanging string lights inside and outside your tent. This is a great alternative to bonfires, as setting anything on fire may not be ideal during summer, especially if you’re in a wildfire-prone area. Plus, it could get too hot and uncomfortable. If your kids want to make smores, you can use a camping stove or cooking torch, instead.
- Make healthy but tasty snacks – camping is notorious for sugary snacks and junk food. Explore healthier alternatives instead like homemade yogurt ice cream, mixed nuts and berries, apple slices with peanut butter, and carrot and celery sticks with hummus. Ditch the sodas and juice boxes with freshly squeezed orange juice, homemade lemonade, and water.
- Have mini games and prizes – if you have a big backyard, you can set up a scavenger hunt or mini golf course to keep your kids entertained. You can also try classic games like hide-and-seek, tag, hop scotch, and so on. Introduce some challenge and competition by giving out prizes for the winners.
- Play board games – if your kids aren’t the physical type, you might get better luck with board games. You can bring different types of family-friendly board games, like Kids Against Maturity, Herd Mentality, Ticket to Ride, and Spot It! (Dobble) so your kids can choose. But pick the ones that aren’t too mentally taxing as kids tend to get sleepy when games get too complicated.
- Bring a storybook – when it’s time to sleep, you’ll need something to help them cozy up and settle down after an activity-filled day. Instead of playing a TV show or letting them play with their iPad, you can read them a story instead. But be sure to choose a book that’s appropriate for their age.
- Watch a movie – if you’re a family of film aficionados, you can set up a projector screen in your backyard and make a move night/camping under the stars hybrid. Be sure to choose a movie everyone has approved of. You can also make campfire popcorn to make the experience more authentic.
- Grill out – summer is the perfect time to take the grill out and have a barbecue. Instead of having your usual dinner in your formal dining room, spice up your camping night by grilling steak, hotdogs, or burgers. You can prepare side dishes beforehand so you won’t need to spend too much time cooking.
- Don’t be a stickler for curfew – you only get to do backyard camping a few times a year, so don’t hesitate to be a little lax with your rules, especially when curfew or bedtime is concerned. Keep in mind that your kids may want to make the most of every second, so don’t force them to sleep if they’re still not sleepy.
To make your family backyard camping more memorable, it’s important that you get the whole family involved. Give your little ones their own responsibilities and encourage them to participate in everything you’ve got planned. Plus, be sure not to shut down their ideas in favor of yours. Since it’s a family affair, it’s important that your kids have a say on what activities you’ll do.