Backyard Summer Campout Checklist

Backyard Summer Campout Checklist

Spend a night under the stars with the kids with a fun (and inexpensive) campout!

By: Robyn Welling

Camping in the backyard is an easy, inexpensive way to have fun and enjoy the outdoors as a family. (It's a unique birthday party or sleepover idea, too.)

If you start well before dark, there are countless ways to keep everyone entertained. Just throw on the sunscreen and head outside!

Whether you just want a few hours of recreation or you plan to sleep under the stars, use this checklist to make sure the day goes off without a hitch.

Of course this is optional — especially if you'll be heading indoors before bedtime — but having an outdoor shelter of any kind is exciting for kids. Consider stretching a sheet or blanket between two trees, draping one over a clothesline or otherwise giving little adventurers a cozy place to call their outdoor home.

Sleeping Bags and Pillows
Kids will appreciate having these, even if they're just used as a comfy spot to curl up with a book or look at the clouds.

Insect Repellent
Bug bites can put a damper on the fun, so be sure to keep them away. If you worry about chemicals sometimes used in sprays, try citronella candles or make your own repellent by mixing one part eucalyptus oil to 15 parts cooking oil in a clean spray bottle. Use aloe vera gel instead of the cooking oil to make a nice lotion.

Flashlights or Glow Sticks
Don’t let the fun stop once the sun goes down! Summer nights are great for telling stories around a “camp” fire or exploring the backyard.

Emergency Gear
It's always a good idea to have a small first-aid kit on hand, but also remember to bring inhalers or an epinephrine injector for serious allergies in case of an emergency.


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Chips, crackers or trail mix are always popular with kids, and as a bonus, you don't have to worry about vacuuming up crumbs!

S'mores or Hot Dogs
If you have a fire pit, you'll definitely want to enjoy these traditional camping treats.

And don’t forget the Bounty paper towels!

With all the exercise and sunshine, don't forget to stay hydrated.

Of course, before you go out, make sure all the kids (and you!) are wearing sunscreen and have appropriate protection from any elements. Once you do, set off into the great outdoors!

Reacquaint yourselves with the overlooked details around your yard. A few simple items like a magnifying glass, bug net and binoculars instantly transform kids into explorers.

Take Pictures
It's fun to see things from kids' perspective, so give them an old camera or a disposable one and encourage them to click to their hearts' content.

Tell Campfire Stories
Spooky ghost stories are most commonly told on campsites at night, but younger audiences might prefer fairy tales or stories about themselves as babies. Telling a group tale, in which each person takes a turn adding a twist to the plot, usually ends with a lot of laughs.

When camping in your own backyard, you don't have to go far or do a lot of planning to feel like you've been on an adventure. With these suggestions and a few materials you probably already have around the house, you can easily start creating lasting family memories this weekend!

As a mother to five, Robyn Welling has accidentally become a cleaning and crafts expert over the years. She's a freelance writer and humorist at Hollow Tree Ventures, where she blogs about crafts, parenthood, and the hilarity of everyday life from her cozy (that means crowded) home in Michigan.

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