The Parents’ Guide to Backyard Camping

The COVID-19 pandemic has led to the widespread closure of campgrounds, hiking trails and other outdoor amenities across the Northwest.

So If you’ve never camped with your kids in the backyard, this might be the year to do it. Read on for ideas to make it memorable.

Fair weather

If you’re just trying to introduce your kids to the idea of camping, you want their backyard experience to be great. That starts with picking a nice, dry, temperate night for your outing. So watch the weather closely and choose a night that looks most promising.

Insider tip: In case it does start to rain or gets too cold, guess what? You’re not far from home!

Helping hands

There’s a lot to be learned from camping: how to pick a flat spot for your tent, how to set it up, how to deck it out and so much more. Involve your kiddos in every step of the way so they have more than memories to take from the experience.

Creature comforts

Kids like their comfy beds, bedtime stories and their creature companions. Help them create a fun place for the night with comfortable air mattresses or cots, lots of pillows and blankets and any stuffed animals they want to bring along.

Fire up

Nothing sets the camping tone like a proper campfire. If you have a fire pit, light it up and gather ‘round. Teach the kids about fire safety and how to build a fire. Roast hot dogs and s’mores and tell a few mildly scary stories.

Power down

Camping, even backyard camping, is all about getting outside and enjoying all that Mother Nature has to offer. Leave the screens inside. Instead, plan a scavenger hunt, do a neighborhood hike, identifying trees and flowers along the way; play old-school games like hide-and-seek and do some stargazing. Inside the tent, pass out the flash lights or head lamps and play cards or board games, read and tell stories and hit the hay.

Have fun

That one’s easy.

Once you’ve had a successful backyard camp out, you can start planning an adventure away from home. Actively Northwest has you covered with camping tips and destination ideas.

Image by stanley45

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Jon Bell

Jon Bell writes about the outdoors, fitness, health, and a range of other topics from his home in Lake Oswego, OR. He is also the author of "On Mount Hood: A Biography of Oregon's Perilous Peak."

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