Summer camp this year may be a bit different, but that doesn’t mean that kids can’t still have fun. The need to socially distance is important, and there are tons of ways to recreate the summer camp experience right in your own backyard. Camping out at home is a great way for families to bond, and you get to be right there to enjoy watching your child discover the joys of spending more time outdoors. Setting up a backyard summer camp is as easy as gathering these essentials that provide weeks of fun in the sun.
1. Find a Tent
Building a cabin in your backyard might not be reasonable. Fortunately, kids love tents, and you can find them in kid-friendly sizes that fit perfectly into your yard. If you plan to have your tent up for more than a day, look for one that is designed for outdoor use with weather-resistant materials. You’ll also want to make sure that you can anchor the tent down so that it doesn’t blow away.
Once you find a tent, get the kids involved in the set up. This is a great opportunity to start building those outdoor survival skills. Be sure to point out the different features and how they work such as why there are poles or a rain fly.
2. Add Cozy Sleeping Bags
Creating a cozy space inside the tent is another part of the set up that your little campers can help with. Find sleeping bags that provide a cushion against the hard ground and help to keep the kids warm at night. Your kids might also want to add pillows, blankets and a comfort item that makes their summer at home feel extra special.
3. Put Out Chairs and a Table
Food is a huge part of summer camp, and your kids will need a place to set up for those exciting lunches. You can set up a simple card table and chairs, or you can get more elaborate. Camp kitchens and tables can make the experience seem more authentic. A portable canopy can also go over the table set up to provide shade and prevent rain from ruining the day.
4. Light Up the Night
Flashlights are a given when it comes to backyard camping. Your kids will love being able to venture out in the yard after dark, and making shadow puppets in the tent is a summer camp staple.
String lights add an element of fun that makes a socially distanced summer seem more exciting. You can also give your kids battery-powered lanterns or solar lights to make nighttime feel less scary.
5. Cook Over a Fire Pit
Campfires are a huge part of summer camp, and everyone loves sitting around singing songs as they enjoy the glow. Kids also like cooking over a campfire with an adult’s supervision. A fire pit is an excellent replacement for a campfire when you don’t want to create a fire ring in your yard.
Choose a fire pit with a screen and that is big enough for your kids to stand around without getting hit by embers. This also gives you a great chance to talk about general fire safety as you roast marshmallows and hot dogs together.
6. Pick Up an Instrument
Spending summer at home is also the perfect time to get your kids to unplug and learn how to play an instrument. Guitars are common at summer camp, and your kids can pick up a few chords within days that they can use to play a song. Ukuleles are another popular instrument that might be better suited for children with smaller hands. Talk to your kids about what they’d like to learn to play during their at-home camp. Whether they like harmonicas or drums, they’ll pick up valuable musical skills and enjoy entertaining the family.
7. Create a Craft Station
A large portion of time at summer camp is spent making those adorable crafts that everyone loves. Bottle cap necklaces, plastic lace key chains and tie dyed t-shirts are all easy crafts that your kids can do at home. Find a portable shelf or tote that you can fill with basic craft supplies. Then, print out some instructions for any that you don’t know how to do on your own. When your kids claim that they are bored, just pull out the supplies and get them started on making cool things that they can wear or add to their room decor.
8. Grab Science Supplies
Your backyard is filled with opportunities to teach your kids a few science lessons. If you don’t have a garden already, consider buying some seeds that your kids can plant in the soil. Kids also love simple scientific explorations at camp such as using a magnifying glass to check out the bugs that they catch.
Older kids can get into deeper science activities. Pick up the supplies for them to build a solar still or a tin can stove. Younger kids might enjoy making sun prints with leaves on special paper.
9. Cool Off in a Pool
Inflatable pools are a lifesaver during a socially distanced summer. Look for a pool that is big enough to accommodate all of your children, and remember that it doesn’t necessarily have to be deep for them to have fun.
Other water toys are also essential for your backyard camp. Look for water squirters, sprinklers and other items that let your kids get wet. They’ll have fun cooling off and experience one of the biggest joys of summer.
10. Play Outdoor Games
Backyard summer camp feels more like the real thing when you have several basic outdoor games available. Just about everyone loves to play ring toss or a game of horseshoes. Cornhole and bocce are another couple of games to put in the yard.
You may also want to consider that one of the biggest backyard trends right now is oversized games. Kids love playing their favorite indoor games in jumbo-sized versions outside such as building a giant tower out of blocks without knocking them down.
11. Set Up Sports Equipment
Playing sports helps kids stay health during Coronavirus summer, and your kids might even discover a new type of sport that they want to pursue once school and athletic activities resume. Tetherball is an easy sport to set up in your backyard, and you can find kits with a pole, ball and rope that take up very little space.
Volleyball, soccer and even disc golf are additional ideas to set up a sports event area in your backyard. Even if you don’t have enough people to put together proper teams, your family can all still practice the essential skills and drills that kids get to do at camp.
With a little planning and creativity, you can turn Coronavirus summer into one that is filled with beautiful memories. Now, all you need to do is grab your camera and send the kids outside. You can bet that this will be one summer that no one will forget.
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