camping for kids in the backyard

backyard camping

Who says you have to go far for an adventure?!

Your backyard may seem like a pretty hum-drum place – but it can hold many secrets and unexpected adventures. There are many creatures that are waiting to be discovered (and entertain you). Take a close look!

Here are some of the creatures we’ve found in our backyard:

There are so many more but we were too slow to capture them on camera – wild turkeys, hawks, raccoons, fishers, voles, mice…all sorts of things!

If you stop to listen, your backyard can sound like an orchestra! We heard the sounds of a gray tree frog (listen here from the Toronto Zoo), two porcupines having a conversation (see the video), and so much more mysterious music from nature!

Camping in your backyard means slowing down and watching nature living around you. You can learn so much watching bees, birds play, squirrels jumping from trees – it’s fun to watch the antics of these amazing creatures.

You don’t need a lot of space to set up camp. See below for some tips on gear, backyard camp life, and some fun activities including free downloads.

Gear

This is not a super extensive list, after all – it is backyard camping, so you don’t need much gear!

Just Some Basics
  1. Rain proof tent & groundsheet (the groundsheet helps keep the bottom of the tent dry)
  2. Sleeping mat (foam, cot, blow up mattress, whatever you have)
  3. Sleeping bag, or lots of blankets
  4. Pillow
  5. Camping light (like solar or flashlight)
  6. Walkie talkie (keep one inside the house for your parents in case you get a bit scared at night!)
  7. Comfortable chairs
  8. If you’re in the city, check your local laws, but you could have a small propane fireplace or similar. **Be sure adults are there to supervise at all times if this equipment is out or in use
  9. Books to read, activities to do, a camera for capturing creatures
  10. Lots of snacks and drinks, maybe a cooler to keep them in (but don’t bring any food into the tent…see Camping Rule #1 below!)

Tips

A few thoughts to make the experience more enjoyable.

A Few Suggestions

Pick level ground to set your tent up, and remove any big stones…those aren’t comfortable sleeping on!

Leave an outdoor light on for finding the loo at night, or if kids don’t like the total dark. Keep a flashlight in the tent.

As mentioned before, this is Camping Rule #1: Do NOT bring food into the tent! Animals have a much better sense of smell than us – even if it’s sealed in plastic. In the city, there may not be big animals, there may just be squirrels and racoons, but they can still do a lot of damage if they smell your snacks!

Have a back up plan if it rains (like a covered spot).

If you want, pack some books or board games. But to have a real camping experience: no technology! Your music, video games, or google can wait till you “get home.”

The best part about backyard camping is that you don’t have to travel far, you know the “park” well, and if the weather gets terrible, you can always run inside! You can make the experience as authentic as you want.

We sisters had a rule: No going inside except for the washroom! We stayed outside for everything, even in the rain, reading books and watching nature around us. We had such a great time we’ve camped in our backyard a few times 🙂

The ideas below can be for the backyard, or do them while “real” camping too!

Ideas and Projects While Camping

plaster animal track cast kid project idea

Animal Tracks and Plaster Casts

Learn to identify who was walking where, and you can even make a plaster cast of the tracks to keep!

See this article for the free animal tracks journal and plaster cast instructions

bannock fried kids cooking

Baking Bannock

Learn to make this traditional food over an open fire or in the oven. It’s easy, a piece of history and tasty!

See the article Baking Bannock

wasp nest

Who or what Is That?

In the slideshow above, did you see how many animals we spotted? Keep a journal of what animals you see, what sounds they make, and interesting facts about them! This is a wasp nest 🙂

Bird Spotting and Free Journal – see this article

Photography for Kids

Photography is a wonderful way to connect kids to nature. It also helps build STEM and life skills. Are you looking for an age-appropriate camera? Click on the buttons below for more info.

Photography for Kids – Tips and Activities Article

Why Photography for Kids? See this article for details

outdoor education quinzee kids play outdoors

Winter Camping

Just because summer is over, that doesn’t mean the end of camping adventures! You can even camp in the winter!

See the article for Snow Camping