Having a backyard camp out with your little kids is a great way to figure out if they are ready for the real thing! Most parents allow their kids to pitch a tent in their back yard at least once when they are little and let them try the experience out. The parent can choose to stay the night in the tent if the children are very small, but adventurous boys and girls at the age of 10 or 11 might want to try it on their own.
Of course, even at that age they might come running into the house in the middle of the night because they heard or saw something scary in the dark. That’s just fine anyway because it’s usually the fun they have setting up their make shift camp and the fireside chatter that’s the best part of the experience anyway.
Making A Temporary Campsite
It doesn’t take a lot to make kids happy and give them an enjoyable pre-camping experience in your own back yard. If you have a wooded area near your house, you might like to set up a camp there to make the experience more real, but it should be close enough to the house to for bathroom purposes.
If you have several kids that will be joining in, then you might want to set up a couple of tents to have room for everyone, or one large family sized tent could do. Let the kids help with setting it up because for them, that can be a fun part they want to participate in. Back yard camping is a great way to to teach your kids some very useful survival skills they might actually need to use one day.
Making a Fire
No camping experience is complete without a fire, even in a back yard where there is likely to be lights available. An adult should always be present to supervise making a fire ring, unless of course you already have a fire pit in your back yard ready made. If not, do the usual preparations like clearing a spot of ground, making a ring of rocks around it and gathering enough wood to last most of the night.
Even teenagers will need to be supervised to some extent unless you want someone to accidentally burn your house down in the middle of the night. It is likely to be a long night for the adults just so they can supervise things adequately!
No camping experience is complete without lots of goodies to snack on. You will likely want to help them roast hot dogs and marshmallows over the fire because for kids this is a real treat. You will need the other usual camping supplies like paper cups and plenty to drink.
How you let your pioneer campers sleep can be done in several different ways. Kids tend to like using sleeping bags because it makes the experience seem more like the real thing. If you don’t have enough sleeping bags to go around, you can set up cots if you have those or use an inflatable air mattress or two and use regular bed covers. If you really want them to know what it feels like to rough it, a sleeping bag or a couple of blankets on the ground won’t hurt a kid one bit for just one night.
Besides setting up the temporary camp site itself and the food, kids will want something else to do until bedtime. Telling ghost stories is an all time favorite or perhaps playing charades. There’s lots of fun things you can do like playing hide and seek in the dark, but little ones might not take to this game very well! Bringing out board games is a good idea too, things like checkers is always fun.
If you are planning on roughing it in the back yard with your kids, bedtime probably won’t be an issue because you will be there with them. However, if they know you are sleeping inside the house and they are going to be outside, don’t be surprised if you have some last minute back outs! Camping out seems like a real fun idea to most younger kids until the fire dies down and it gets quiet and spooky outside. Many a back yard tents have remained empty of young campers when bedtime actually rolls around!