For many children their first camping trip is a few feet into the backyard. There’s nothing quite as exhilarating to a youngster as pitching a tent and sleeping outside, relatively independent of the house. Even though the campsite is less than a stone’s throw away from the house, many kids love backyard camping because they feel as if somehow they’re getting away with something, as if the confining rules of the house don’t necessarily reach their little camping expedition. Not only is backyard camping fun, but it’s a great way to get junior accustomed to camping and will make the first real camping trip a bit easier. Backyard camping is a lot like training wheels, it’s a little safety net to reassure the child that nothing can really go wrong.
The main fixture of backyard camping is the tent. Kids like having their own private space and a tent represents just that. Help your child pitch their own tent, but let them take the lead, giving them a sense of accomplishment when it’s done. Even if it’s a little wobbly, a small tent that a child puts up can fill them with pride. It really does feel like “grown-up” camping. Backyard camping doesn’t need to be anything elaborate, just a small tent and sleeping bag will do. This is a great time to teach children about knot tying or maybe go over some lessons for a real camping trip. This is a great trial run before taking a child on his first actual camping trip.
This is a great time to go over safety rules when there isn’t the stress of actually being away from home. You can also have a camping meal with your child. Try helping your child fix his own meal with the types of food that you would actually take on a camping trip. Depending on where you live, you could even have a little campfire; just make sure that you are inline with the law and any restrictions that may be on your property.
Nighttime is going to be the most fun and challenging part of backyard camping. It is a great time to stargaze with your child and teach him some basic constellations and stars. This is also an excellent time to talk and bond with your kids without the distractions of TV, games, and computers. You may also want to teach your kids some traditional camping songs or tell amusing camping stories. For young children who have never been camping or away from home, there might be a challenge in sleeping in the tent all night. Kids have active imaginations and it is easy for them to get caught up in the camping spirit and suddenly dad snoring is a bear or if they’re alone every rustle of the wind is cause for alarm.
This is a great time to see how your child will do on a real camping trip. As much as kids hate bedtime, it can be very uncomfortable for them to sleep anywhere but in their own bed. For some children this will be a big step so be very understanding and supportive.
Backyard camping is a great pastime and many wonderful memories are made during this first camping “trip”. You may want to start a tradition of backyard camping in your family. It’s a great way to bring the family together, have fun, and go camping all from the safety of your own backyard.