17 Backyard Camping Ideas for Kids, Parties, and More

Last Update: September 27, 2022

Many activities and events may have been cancelled this year, but camping doesn’t have to be one of them. Even if you can’t take a road trip to your favorite mountain destination, there’s plenty of fun to be had right in the backyard. Read on for all the ideas you need to create special memories without leaving home.

Backyard Camping Supplies List

You might not have to pack up the car, but to replicate the experience you’ll still need many of the same camping supplies. Start with our checklist of must-haves, and then we’ll get into the food, games, and fun.

  • Tent
  • Sleeping bags
  • Pillows
  • Sleeping pads or air mattresses
  • Portable crib (if needed)
  • Snacks
  • Lawn chairs
  • Water games like a kiddie pool or sprinkler
  • Floaties
  • Beach towels
  • Outdoor fire pit
  • Matches or lighter
  • Bug repellant
  • Sunscreen

Camping Ideas for Kids

With little ones to entertain, it’s good to have a few surprises up your sleeve. Try one of these fun backyard camping ideas!

  • Camping scavenger hunt ideas for kids: A nature scavenger hunt is fun for the whole family. Print a page with photos of items to find, and let your kids wander the neighborhood in search of each one. Ideas include: pine cones, leaves, rocks, flowers, something green, spider web, worms, birds, or anything else that might be unique to your local landscape.
  • Nature walks: You can do the scavenger hunt as part of your walk, or just enjoy a walk through the neighborhood or nearby park as part of your post-dinner routine before turning in for the night.
  • “I Spy”: After dinner, play “I Spy” to keep the fun going. Each person shares a single clue for something they can see. For example, if you picked a birdhouse, you might say, “I spy with my little eyes something that is brown.” Whoever guesses the object correctly wins!
  • Bubbles: Bubbles are always a hit! This activity requires nothing more than a bottle of bubbles.
  • Dig Site: Create a mini construction site for kids to scoop, dig, and play with trucks.
  • Chalk: Let the kids decorate your campsite with chalk.
    Photos: Don’t forget to document your weekend! Take photos of all the activities, food, and walks, then print the photos for an album you can always revisit.

Fun Camping Games

These games are fun for the whole family—try one or do them all!

  • Potato sack race: Let the games begin! Give everyone a potato sack or trash bag, then determine a start and finish line, and you’re off to the races.
  • Tug of war: If your family is large enough to create two teams, divide up and see which side is strongest.
  • Card games: Card games are classic additions to any camping trip. Play Go Fish, Crazy Eights, or War.
  • Bingo: If your usual campsite is known for its rousing Tuesday night Bingo event, bring it to your yard. There are lots of inexpensive Bingo sets available, and kids will enjoy being in charge of turning the tumbler.

Best Camping Recipes

If you have an outdoor grill set up, now’s a great time to use it. Here are a few of our favorite easy camping recipes everyone will love, and can be cooked (mostly) outdoors.

Best Burger Recipe

Is it really a campout without the perfect burger? Our juicy patties are seasoned with garlic powder, pepper, Worcestershire sauce, and Dijon mustard.

Grilled Chicken Fajitas

Chicken fajitas are always a hit. Don’t forget to heat the tortillas on the grill—it’ll make them more pliable and add a light smoky flavor. Our organic fajita seasoning makes prep a breeze.

Grilled Chicken Fajitas

Chicken Satay

Here’s a Thai-inspired dish you can marinate in advance. Coconut milk and red curry paste give each bite a bold flavor.

Grilled Romaine Salad

This memorable side dish adds a bit of char to romaine hearts, and the flavor is right at home alongside burgers, or grilled fish.

Grilled romaine salad

Cedar Plank Grilled Salmon

For lighter fare, try cooking salmon on a cedar plank. The base imparts flavor while keeping your fish from slipping through the grates. Serve with your favorite grilled veggies!

Salmon kebab

Strawberries and Cream Oat Milk Ice Cream

When it’s time to serve dessert, try a make-ahead dairy-free ice cream. This recipe has a base of oat milk, flavored with vanilla bean and fresh strawberries.

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Nicole Gulotta

Nicole Gulotta is a writer, author, and tea enthusiast.

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