By Stacy Walden
Many of us can recall our favorite outdoor adventure as a child. Whether it was while away at a recreational camp with friends or right in your backyard with family, the rejuvenation that comes from nature is like no other.
But now that many wilderness camps are no longer in session due to COVID-19, it’s sad to see your children miss out on those experiences. The thrill of embarking on an adventure helps kids not only explore but become more familiar with the outdoors improving their own knowledge and relationship with nature.
Benefits of Camping for Families
Camping is a great and affordable vacation that has many benefits for not only kids but parents as well. Camping is known to relieve stress, and now that eight out of 10 adults say the coronavirus pandemic is a significant source of stress in their lives, might be the form of relief families’ are looking for. According to one study, spending just 15 minutes sitting in nature can help us to feel psychologically refreshed, while multiple studies have linked nature walks with improved mental health. Camping also helps families learn to unplug from technology and have a deeper appreciation for nature.
Camping also teaches kids basic survival skills. Lessons around fire safety, what plants to avoid, and how to set up a shelter if needed will help children feel more confident and grow their self-esteem. Without knowledge of these skills, children can become dependent on technology and other elements that don’t exist in nature. This will help parents know if something were to happen to their child, they would be able to use resources and skills learned while camping to get themselves back to safety.
Since the outdoors can introduce foreign environments, families can also learn new skills and find ways to work together to solve problems. Working as a team helps bring your family closer and uncover new traits about each other that you didn’t already know.
DIY Backyard Camping
Since many of us are spending more time at home, why not bring the camping experience to your own backyard? Getting outside and enjoying the outdoors is a memorable way to spend time together while learning new skills and discovering a newfound appreciation for nature.
With a little bit of creativity, you can set-up a DIY camping experience in your backyard that will keep your whole family entertained and having fun all weekend long. The best part is if you forget something or need to run inside for an extra blanket, your home is only a few feet away. To help you get started we’ve gathered a list of supplies you might need.
Ultimate DIY Backyard Camping Checklist:
- A tent that can fit the whole family
- Lights you can string across your fence (to look like stars)
- A sign you can decorate to name your “camp”
- Snacks and water
- Lawn chairs
- Blankets and pillows
- Sunscreen, hats, and sunglasses
- Hand sanitizer
- Bug spray
- Pencils, pens, and glue
- Something to lean on and write on
The best part of camping is all the planned activities. Explore the following ideas your whole family will enjoy.
Backyard Camping Ideas the Whole Family Will Enjoy
Below are a few activities to help you plan your own backyard camping adventure. Many of these ideas are geared at entertaining and educating your kids, but feel free to add your own activities that might work for entertaining older age groups as well! We hope you and your family enjoy these activities and that the experience helps your family grow closer.
1. Embark on a Sensory Scavenger Hunt
Since you’ll be in your backyard, the chances of seeing wild animals might be slim. Instead, encourage your children to go on a “5 Senses Scavenger Hunt.” The purpose of this scavenger hunt is to discover things using all five senses. For example, you could strive to find something bumpy to the touch or sweet to the smell. This sensory learning activity helps teach children mindfulness and using the whole brain for learning. Encourage your child to collect pine cones, leaves, and blades of grass for the next activity.
Benefit: Encourages the development of sensory and motor skills.
2. Create a Critter Collage
Just like at a wilderness kid’s camp, make time for arts and crafts! Crafts encourage children to play and experiment in a fun and relaxed environment. If camping is new to your children, introduce something that is more familiar like coloring to help them feel comfortable. Invite your children to use the found outdoor materials of twigs, leaves, and flowers to create unique critters with glue.
Benefit: Enhances children’s hand-eye coordination and builds levels of manual dexterity.
3. Tell Campfire Stories
Gather your family around a fire pit and entertain each other with some fun storytelling. All you need is a die and your imagination. Each child takes a turn to roll the die 5 times, circling whichever story element matches with the number they get under each category. Similar to mad-libs, each story element will determine how the story ends.
Benefit: Through storytelling, children are able to learn more about life, the world, and themselves.
4. Go Stargazing
Before the sun goes down, lay out some blankets and use the below printable to discover star constellations. By tracing the shapes ahead of time, it will be easier to spot them in the sky when it’s dark. Once the stars become visible, have each child take turns picking a constellation to try and find first. Stargazing offers a great opportunity to introduce your child to math concepts such as counting, identifying shapes, and tracing patterns.
Benefit: Expose your child to scientific concepts like astrology and astronomy.
Have we convinced you of all the benefits of backyard camping? Get started by planning your own outdoor adventure and printing the activities recommended above. Your family will love the change in scenery and create lasting memories for years to come. We wish you a safe and happy backyard camping experience!