If you don’t have the time or funds for a weeklong vacation, you can still celebrate your favorite outdoor traditions with a backyard camping trip! Pitch your tent in the grass, bring out pillows and sleeping bags, and enjoy all the fun of a summer adventure without the added stress of a long-distance vacation.
1. Take Your Tent Up A Notch
Get Your Kids In On The Fun
Before the big day, have your kids make their own decorations to turn your backyard into a camping destination. From outdoors-themed coloring pages to wreaths, birdhouses to hand-painted tiki torches, these creations will give your kids the added fun of seeing their hard work transform your home into a state park.
Light It Up
For some extra decorations, string lights and quirky battery-operated lights bring a gentle, warm glow to every summer evening. If your backyard has wall outlets, you can break out your holiday lights. For a fun DIY project, fill Mason jars or brightly colored plastic containers with battery-operated string lights. These can then be placed in the tent or around the backyard for a colorful evening glow!
Turn your tent into a game room with your favorite board games, or make up your own! (Pro tip: this is a great activity for a rainy day!) When it gets dark, use lanterns or flashlights to create shadow puppets on the walls of the tent. For an educational twist, invest in a constellation lamp or tapestry and teach your kids to read the stars. We love The Night Sky by local educator and author Garrick Pfaffmann .
2. Kid-Friendly Campfire Recipes
Breakfast: Tin Foil Egg Boats
These tin foil breakfasts are perfect for picky eaters and adventurous foodies alike. Shape two pieces of tin foil into a “boat” and a lid. Fill the boat with whisked eggs, chopped veggies, pre-cooked bacon, or your other favorite proteins. Then, carefully fold the tin foil lids over the boats to make closed, football-shaped containers. Cook these on a grill or stick with a marshmallow spear to roast over an open fire. After 5-10 minutes, the eggs and mix-ins will be perfectly cooked. Top with shredded cheese, salsa, or sour cream and dig in!
Lunch & Dinner: Campfire Meals
Cooking over a campfire adds a new layer of smoky flavor to every meal. Did you know baked potatoes can be an entire delicious, nutritious meal? Scrub and salt your potatoes, wrap in tin foil, and place directly in the coals of your campfire. Let roast for 45 minutes, then set aside to cool. When they’re ready to eat, add your favorite toppings — your kids can mix and match healthy favorites like broccoli, olives, scallions, salsa, and cheese — and dig in! For a cheesier twist, you can make grilled cheese or quesadillas over the fire. Our kids love adding mushrooms, roasted peppers, onions, tomatoes, and other veggies to make unique grilled cheese masterpieces!
Dessert: S’more Healthy S’mores
Who said s’mores had to be unhealthy? You can add a fresh component to this campfire favorite by swapping your Graham crackers for sliced strawberries or bananas, then topping with mini marshmallows and low-sugar dark chocolate. For a pop of protein, add a handful of chopped nuts. If your kids are fans of ooey-gooey deliciousness (who isn’t?), build tin foil boats like you did at breakfast and fill with your favorite dessert toppings. You can roast these over the fire just like roasting marshmallows, and enjoy a delicious, sticky dessert!
3. Turn Your Backyard Into A State Park
Flora & Fauna Scavenger Hunt
For an educational afternoon activity, look up your state’s common wildlife and indigenous plants. Locate these in your own backyard (or hide handmade versions if your backyard isn’t super green), then make a scavenger hunt for your kids to complete. Spend the afternoon identifying these plants, bugs, and birds, and learning fun facts about them!
It may be an off year for the Olympics, but that doesn’t have to be the case at your house! Turn your backyard into a sports extravaganza with your favorite summer games, like horseshoes, cornhole, and lawn darts. Do your kids have a competitive streak? Plan a full afternoon of games and competitions, with points for the winners. At the end of the day, decorate each other’s medals and give awards like “Best Concentration Face” and “Most Enthusiasm.” Hold a medal ceremony and celebrate!
Bedtime Storytelling Contest
When it’s time for bed, you can use the day’s activities to inspire a bedtime storytelling contest. Alternatively, you can use familiar fairy tales and swap out the main characters for members of your family or your kids’ friends. Climb into your favorite jammies and take turns telling stories with different categories — scary, funny, mysterious — and vote on the winners.
As a mom and business owner living in the Colorado mountains, I have access to tons of great camping and wilderness opportunities. But my entire life I’ve loved spending time right at home in my backyard: big, small, rural, urban, sandy, grassy, or rocky. There’s nothing better than grilling out, making a fire, enjoying your garden or native plants, kicking or throwing a ball, a round of quoits or corn hole, and loving whatever makes your home special. And what excitement for the kids, just to set up a tent in the yard and sleep outside. Let’s face it, Summer can be short, but sweet, so make the most of it, even if it’s just right outside your doorstep!
Sweet dreams! ~ Nicole
New Jammies was born as an environmentally responsible company offering 100% certified organic cotton and flame retardant-free children’s pajamas. Learn more at newjammies.com.