In our increasingly tech-obsessed world, it’s sometimes hard to escape radio waves and LED screens. Our backyards are one of the last frontiers we can escape to for simpler, tech-free activities.
And if you’ve found removing yourself from technology difficult, try getting back to basics with the kids. In a world of readily-accessible information and entertainment, technology is akin to choccies and lollies for our youngest generation.
Backyard camping is a fabulous, stress-free, cheap and safe way to coax the kids outdoors with promises of something new and adventurous. And if you have some super smart and amusing activities lined up, they’ll be begging you for regular garden campouts! But you need to set one rule beforehand: absolutely NO electronic technology permitted.
Here’s our list of innovative and incredibly fun backyard camping ideas to keep the kids entertained.
Camping Activities for the Whole Family
1. Nature scavenger hunt
Before the sun goes down, prepare a scavenger hunt for the kids, tailored to the features of your garden. Have them collect a number of items – the petals of a particular flower, a gum tree leaf, a funny shaped rock, a clothes line peg.
You can even stretch the boundaries of their search by having them photograph their finds. Then you can add creepy crawlies, feathered friends, and more to the list. Make it extra special by buying them a cheap disposable camera from the local supermarket and going on a nature hike around your nearest park. They’ll love the momento photos you can print out and give them a few days later.
Above our heads is a small example of the great universe out there, yet we hardly ever stop to marvel at its size and beauty. A backyard campout is the perfect time to hold the moment still and gaze at the stars overhead.
For kids, it can be insightful and educational, as well as hugely enjoyable. Even if you don’t have a telescope, a simple pair of binoculars held up to the moon will reveal all the craters and surface pock holes that prove it’s a real place. The kids will undoubtedly get a kick out of it.
Find a star chart map online and discover which planets will be out in force on the night you choose for your camping trip. Point them out to the kids and discuss their size comparative to Earth – they simply won’t believe you! Show them how to locate south using the Southern Cross – it’s a skill that may come in handy someday.
Finally, make a Bingo game out of your stargazing. The first to find a blue star, a red star, a twinkling star, the Southern Cross, a satellite moving slowly across the sky, and even – if you’re lucky – a shooting star, wins!
3. Constellation Storytelling
Storytelling is a must-have activity on any campout. But why not make it more interesting? Blend your storytelling with your stargazing.
Each participant must find their own made-up constellation and invent a mythic tale around its existence. If you’re a bit prepared, storytelling also gives you scope to delve into Australia’s indigenous Dreamtime stories to find out how our Aboriginal people interpreted the sky above their heads. Introduce your kids to the Emu in the Sky, the Celestial Serpent, and more.
Getting the kids away from the television and giving them a chance to cultivate their own imagination and creativity will be a rewarding experience for both parent and child alike.
4. Torchlight treasure hunt
Every kid loves a treasure hunt. Combine it with night-time and the powerful beam of a torch and you’ll whip the kids into an excitable frenzy.
Plant a bag of snackable camping goodies somewhere in the garden and encourage the kids to discover it using only their torchlight. If they struggle to find it, give them gentle hints with a simple “hotter” and “colder”.
5. Campfire cooking
OK, so in Australia with our dry climate and fire restrictions, it can be hard to have a campfire in your own backyard. Check with your local authorities before you light up, just in case there are council restrictions or total fire bans in your area.
If you are lucky enough to enjoy an open fire pit, you can’t have a camping night without toasting marshmallows over the glowing embers of a warm fire. You can even try cooking up some smores, using a delicious recipe like this one from Parenting. For a healthier option, sandwich marshmallows between slices of apple.
Give your kids a bunch of things they can toast over the fire and let them go wild with experimenting: damper, hot dogs, and corn cobs are great picks.
Make sure you’ve got supplies in case the fire option is out. Keep it to nibblies – packets of chips, sticks of carrots, bugs on a log (peanut butter and raisins on celery). You can find plenty more awesome food ideas on Pinterest.
A backyard camping adventure can be great fun for the whole family. Try to make it as authentic as possible, be harsh on the no-technology rule, and have lots of board games, card decks and more on hand and the kids will be begging you for monthly outdoor sleepovers!
Want to find more family-fun things to do in your backyard as this spring? We’ve compiled a 27 page eBook pumped full of Spring Makeover ideas, including:
- Creating your own backyard escape (with more ideas on backyard camping!)
- DIY ideas to spruce up your garden
- How to embrace the Caveman trend in your backyard this spring.
Register for your free download below: