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The Ultimate Guide to Backyard Camping

With typical weekend plans off the table, parents are starting to think outside of the box for family fun. No one wants the weekend to wither away while everyone’s glued to their devices. Plus, structured activities can bring your family together. A camping themed weekend of fun is a safe bet: you can’t go wrong with fresh air, fun activities, and camp time snacks. Getting outside and enjoying the sunshine is a key part of self-care, and we all know parents need self-care more than ever nowadays. 

We put together our tips for creating a memorable campsite right in your backyard, along with some ideas for activities. We’ve even included some printables to keep the kiddos busy throughout the whole experience, so take a break from Animal Crossing and TikTok dances and design the ultimate backyard camping experience together.

Backyard Camping Set-Up

One of the best parts about your backyard camping adventure is that you don’t need to worry about the logistics involved in usual family trips. Since we’re all confined to our yards, it’s the perfect opportunity to gain a newfound appreciation for your own stomping ground. Plus, for younger kids, making a campsite in the backyard can inspire a love for real camping down the line. Running water and stress-free bathroom breaks are a bonus! 

See your backyard in a whole new light by turning it into a space for outdoor discovery and fun. Here are some tips to make it a memorable experience.

  1. Set up a tent in the center of the backyard, and string lights across the fence. If you don’t have a real tent, you can always improvise with a rope and some sheets.
  2. Come up with a creative name for your campground and decorate a sign together.
  3. Create activity stations in different corners of the yard. The simple act of having designated areas for activities makes it feel more special.
  4. Make a mini snack buffet with treats inspired by camping adventures from s’mores to trail mix.
  5. You might just be right outside the kitchen, but don’t forget your camping essentials! Here’s what you should bring outside:
    1. Lawn chairs
    2. Blankets
    3. Sunscreen, sunglasses, hats
    4. Hand wipes
    5. Plenty of water 
    6. Bug spray
    7. Flashlights 
    8. Pencils/pens and notebooks (or something else to lean on to write)

    Backyard Camping Ideas + Activities

    The key to a successful backyard camping trip is having plenty of activities up your sleeve. Here are a few ideas to get you started:

    Five Senses Scavenger Hunt

    Rather than your typical scavenger hunt with specific items to find, make a list of tasks so your kids can discover things using all five senses. For example, one task could be finding something smooth, finding something heart-shaped, or finding something that snaps or crunches. It’s more hands-on and creative than sticking to a designated list. Assign point values to each scavenger hunt task to add a competitive element. Tell the kids they get double points if they pick an item that no one else found for that task.

    Nature Collage Critters

    Getting crafty during your backyard camping trip is super easy, and all you need is a printer and some glue. Invite your kids to use nature as their art supplies by gathering leaves, pine needles, petals, or even just blades of grass to create unique critters. You can make it a challenge to see who uses the most interesting materials, or you can even gift your masterpieces to each other!

    Campfire Storytime Activity

    Using a fire pit as your “campfire”, gather round and entertain each other with some fun storytelling. Using our printable story creation sheet, the kids can get silly and creative with their stories. All you need is a die and your imagination. Each kid takes a turn to roll the die 5 times, circling whichever story elements correspond with the number they get under each category. These story elements will determine how the plot unfolds. Adults get a turn, too!

    Constellation Connect-the-Dots

    Before it gets dark, get your kids excited about stargazing by having them complete a few connect-the-dot illustrations of the most popular constellations. By tracing the shapes ahead of time, it will be easier to spot them in the sky after it’s dark outside. Once the stars become visible, have each kid pick their favorite constellation that they’ll try to find first. Ask them to come up with creative backstories for the constellations, then look up the actual story of the constellation together.


    With minimal set up involved, a backyard camping trip is an entertaining family activity that doesn’t have to cost a dime. Even if you had to cancel or postpone your usual summer trips, you can always make the best of your own backyard with the right spirit. 

    Soak up the sun while the kids have a blast during the day, and then cozy up in your favorite loungewear for stargazing at the end of the evening. Couples can make it enjoyable too, maybe even with a glass of wine as you gather around the “campfire.” You’ll be sure to make lasting summer memories as a family no matter what. Why not give backyard camping a shot this weekend?