Fun Ideas for Backyard Camping

Recipes, games, and other fun things to do!

Backyard camping
Need ideas for your backyard camping trip? Try some of these recipes, games, and more!. Steven Puetzer

 Thinking about going camping in your backyard? Backyard camping is a fun, no-pressure, low-stakes, low-cost way to have fun as a family. And while it requires very little planning and preparation compared to regular camping, you still want to do a little bit of prep work to make your "trip" a success. 

To make the night fun and hopefully lead to more advanced camping trips in the future with your preschooler, try incorporating some of these backyard camping must-haves:

Good camping food: Sure, you could whip something up in the kitchen and bring it outside (and truly, there is nothing wrong with that!) but it is a lot more fun and authentic if you cook outside. 

For lunch or dinner:

  • Hot dogs or sausages cooked over an open campfire (be sure to supervise your preschooler carefully!)

For Snack or Dessert:

  • Smores! (of course!)

Be very aware when you are cooking on your backyard camping trip. Your preschooler probably isn't used to being so close to this open heat source, whether it is a campfire or a camp stove. Talk about fire safety and how he or she should never go near where the cooking is going on without a grown up.

Fun camping games: Playing in the backyard just got a lot more fun when you imagine your are at a beautiful campground. Try some of these fun activities: 

  • Set up an obstacle course. How long does it take each person to complete?
  • Play flashlight tag or hide and seek. Pair up so your preschooler isn't alone!
  • Have one person set up a scavenger hunt ahead of time for the others.
  • Have a beanbag or horseshoe toss.
  • Run a series of relay races, such as three-legged races, and over-under relays. 
  • Haul out board games and have a tournament!

Camping activities: Everything is more fun when you are on vacation, even if it is just out your back door!

These camping activities will make your stay even more authentic:

  • Go on a hike through your neighborhood.
  • Sing camping songs.
  • Tell spooky ghost stories (or funny ones!)
  • Have a joke telling contest.
  • Put on funny skits for each other.
  • Make dream catchers.
  • Take turns telling stories. One person starts and then after a set amount of time, the next person picks up the tale. 

Sounds like fun, right? Is your family ready to take the backyard camping plunge? Start by participating in a nationwide event! Each year, the National Wildlife Federation hosts the Great American Campout, a summer-long celebration as well as Great American Campout Day. 

Take the pledge to camp -- in your backyard, your neighborhood, your local parks, state parks, and national parks, cabins, RVs, tree houses… you name it! -- and be a part of our nationwide event,” said the group in a statement. “Everyone should get outside at least once this summer and connect with nature and wildlife.  The body, mind, and spirit benefits from outdoor play are well-documented and numerous and create a lasting connection to nature and wildlife that will help you have a happier, healthier family.”

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