Fun Sleepover Party Idea: Camping Slumber Party

How to set up a super-fun camping sleepover for your next kids' party

backyard stargazing party - kids in tent
Camping out indoors or out is a fun idea for a sleepover party that's sure to be a hit with school-age kids. Adrian Green/Getty Images

Here's a fun idea for a sleepover party that's perfect for school-age kids: a camp-out slumber party. And the best part is, you can host it indoors or right outside in your back yard.

All you need are some sleeping bags, stories, camping must-haves such as s'mores and knot-tying, and of course a little imagination, and voila! You have the makings of a fun theme for a sleepover that can take place indoors or out.

What You Will Need:

  • Sleeping bags (ask each child to bring one, and if some kids don’t have one, borrow some from friends).
  • "Lanterns" (flashlights)
  • Healthy snacks such as baby carrots with hummus or cheese and crackers with grapes.
  • Camping-themed dishes such as mini burgers, hot dogs, roasted potatoes, and for dessert, definitely s'mores!
  • Ropes for tying knots (Use a knot-tying kit or get a book about knots).
  • An archery or other outdoor-themed video game, such as for the Wii, which lets kids break out into teams and compete.
  • Stories (Try an excerpt from an outdoors-themed book such as Hatchet by Gary Paulsen for older kids or spooky tales for sitting around your imaginary campfire such as the Goosebumps series; for younger kids, you may want to opt for some camping-themed coloring pages instead). If the kids are older and not likely to get spooked, try mildly scary books such as one of the series.
  • A CD or nature sounds or a nature-themed movie such as 2009's documentary, which uses footage from BBC and Discovery Channel.

How to Organize the Camp-Out Party:

  • Schedule the party for late afternoon/early evening, near dinnertime. As children arrive, let them socialize and snack as you prepare dinner.
  • After the children have eaten, have the kids play camping-themed games such as a knot-tying contest or if you have a Wii, a game of archery with two teams.
  • Serve s'mores, and if it’s a birthday party, the cake.
  • Have kids brush their teeth get their PJs on. Turn out the lights and let them use their flashlights as they settle down in their sleeping bags for story time.
  • A bit before lights out, play the nature sounds CD or a DVD of the earth-themed documentary (if indoors) to get them relaxed as they drift off to sleep.

More Tips:

  • Try to keep the number of kids down to a manageable number—no more than 5 to 8 friends, depending on their ages. (Eight children will be a lot easier to handle if the kids are older since they don't need as much supervision with eating, drinking, brushing teeth, and so on).
  • Plan ahead for the morning after the sleepover and have a neighborhood sitter or another parent come early and pitch in to help.

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