dog watching campfire in backyard

The Best Backyard Camping Checklist

Are you dying to have an adventure but can’t travel right now? Sometimes the best adventures are created at home and backyard camping is an activity anyone can do, even with minimal equipment. This backyard camping checklist has everything you need to have the most fun camping in your backyard (or in your living room if you don’t have a backyard!)

dog watching campfire in backyard

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Backyard Camping Checklist

1. The Tent

In my opinion, setting up your tent should be the first thing you do. This is arguably the best part, so don’t skip this step. Since you’re at home, and you don’t have to worry about how much to pack, make your tent extra comfy and cozy with tons of blankets, pillows, and sleeping bags.

Link to an affordable tent here

TIP: If you don’t have a tent, a DIY fort with some blankets and pillows in the living room will do the trick. Everyone knows kids love a good fort!

2. Camping Snacks

Next, gather up your favorite snacks. Have you ever camped without good snacks? I haven’t, because snacks make this day so much better! Stock up on everyone’s favorite snacks like trail mix or snack mix, fresh fruit, crackers/chips, and of course s’mores (but that’s important enough I’m going to talk about it in on it’s own).

TIP: Take your kiddos to the store and let them each pick out a snack for the family! It will be entertaining to see what everyone chooses.

3. The Campfire

I know this isn’t feasible for everyone, but if you have access to a firepit in your backyard, or maybe at a nearby park, use it. The campfire smell will help create an amazing ambiance and set a fun tone for the whole day. Starting a fire could also be an opportunity to teach your kids an important wilderness survival skill as well.

Link to a similar firepit to the lightweight portable one we use here

TIP: If you are able to have a fire, don’t forget your roasting sticks and burgers/hot dogs and have dinner roasted over the fire.

4. S’mores!

S’mores might be the most important part of this backyard camping checklist! You can’t have a backyard camping adventure without s’mores. If you don’t have a fire, check out this recipe for indoor s’mores. To make these s’mores extra special, buy a couple different chocolate bars from the store and have a contest to see who can make the best s’mores combination. If you want to get even more fancy you can even try out different cookies for the base instead of graham crackers. We made our s’mores with a toffee and almond symphony bar and it was one of the best s’mores I’ve ever had!

5. Camping Playlist

Create a fun camping playlist to set the mood for your outdoor adventure. For us, it’s mostly summer country songs, but whatever gets you in an outdoorsy mood will do.

6. Board Games/Card Games

Break out the playing cards and get competitive with some classic card games. Our favorite card games for camping are Nerts (how to play), Gin Rummy (how to play), and Cribbage (how to play). Games suited to smaller kids are war, slap jack, or go fish. Non card games that we love for camping below! Games with less parts and pieces tend to work better for camping in our experience.

7. Outdoor Games

This is the time to break out your lawn games. I’ve linked some of our favorite yard games that would be perfect for a backyard camping adventure. If you have littler kids, try an activity like backyard bingo or a nature scavenger hunt!

8. Campfire Stories

As it starts to get dark, make sure you have your flashlight. Head to the library ahead of time and pick some age appropriate books about camping or nature to read via flashlight in the tent to your little ones. Take turns telling stories by the campfire or read books about camping in your tent.

Books for little kids about camping:

Camp Rex
Link to buy here

Link to buy here

C is for Camping
Link to buy here

Brave Little Camper
Link to buy here

Llama Llama Loves Camping
Link to buy here

Scaredy Squirrel Goes Camping
Link to buy here

9. Enjoy the Beautiful Night Sky

If you have access to a telescope, this would be an amazing night to bring it out and show your kids some of the amazing things you can find up in space. If you don’t own a telescope, check your local library to see if they have one available to check out. Often libraries have incredible resources like this! Otherwise, just try to get a good view of the moon or stars to make it feel like a real camping adventure.

10. Relax With a Cocktail or Fun Beverage

This one is for the parents. If you’re backyard camping, it is a great time to pick up your favorite beer or try a new cocktail recipe to drink around the fire. Of course if you want to make this a more family friendly step you can make a fabulous mocktail that everyone can enjoy. We made a non-alcoholic caesar drink since I was very pregnant last time we backyard camped!

caesar drink in backyard camping

Backyard Camping Shopping List

We hope you enjoy your amazing at home backyard camping experience with this checklist. This is sure to make your kids and you excited about planning a real camping trip in the future!!

Ready to plan your real camping adventure? Check out our national park guides!

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