First order of business: Spruce up your space. Hang garlands, bring out colorful blankets, and do whatever it takes to make sure your campsite is one-of-a-kind.
What are you going to name your "bunk?" Whatever you choose, design a flag to represent your troop. Make your own with felt triangles and whatever art supplies you have on-hand, or buy a kit like this one, that comes with its own felt stickers.
Create a Backyard Scavenger Hunt
Get your little explorer to take a good look at backyard nature with a scavenger hunt. You can look for different types of flowers and trees, try to identify birds, or collect different types of rocks and stones.
Keep Lawn Games at the Ready
From classic games like cornhole and bocce to sillier ones like Flickn' Chicken, backyard games will keep them up and moving for hours. The best thing about them is that they're so easy to set up and run, you can just dip into them whenever there's a lull in the action.
This is a fun activity that can happen in the background while you're doing all your other games. Buy a downloadable, printable version, or DIY your own with things you know you'll see in your backyard.
Pass On Your Lanyard Knowledge
Close your eyes: You're 10 years old, and you're back at summer camp. You smell like sunscreen and bug spray, and capture the flag is starting in 10 minutes. What are you doing with your hands? Chances are, you're weaving a lanyard keychain (also called a boondoggle depending on where you went to camp). Stock up on some lanyard strings, dust off all those old stitches — the box, the square, the cobra — and show the next generation how it's done.
If lanyard wasn't your craft material of choice, embroidery thread might have been. And while friendship bracelets never go out of style, the true, ultimate camp craft was a God's Eye. You can use cake pop sticks to get it started, or go on a nature hunt and find real sticks to use.
Plan to spend the whole day in the great outdoors — even during dinner prep if you can swing it. Nothing reminds you of camp like the smokey taste of something grilled.
Or go one step beyond grilling, and use that fire pit for something other than ambience. Cooking over a fire doesn't resign you to an evening of hot dogs (even though they can be yummy): You can make some delicious foil-pack meals over a fire, including shrimp and garlicky tomatoes with kale couscous or pineapple and black bean tacos.
Put your karaoke skills to work and get ready to sing songs around the campfire. (Or fire pit. Or picnic blanket.) Search Spotify for inspiration for the best campfire tunes. Bonus points if someone if your family plays guitar.
If you really want to hearken back to your own sleepaway camp days, re-create the uniform: a tie-dye shirt. Camp's Tulip Rainbow 5-Color Tie-Dye Kit comes with enough dye to make shirts for everyone in your family. (You can even get white logo shirts from them, too.)
Making s'mores is basically the whole reason to have a backyard campout in the first place. You can go for the classic chocolate, graham cracker, and marshmallow combo — or try a variation on the theme, like this version that also has a layer of edible cookie dough.
Play a Camping-Themed Board Game
Camping-related board games are a toy trend whether or not you plan on using them outside. Keep to the theme of the night by playing a round of Camp, where players are challenged with trivia questions about the great outdoors; Toasted or Roasted, which has players race to "toast" marshmallow cards while trying to put out their opponents' fires; or Camp Talk, which aims to start conversations by generating silly questions.
If you're looking for more flair for your tent or pennant, try a scouting-inspired badge. You can make up ones to earn throughout the night, or get a kit like this set of iron-on patches and just color them in for fun.
Mountain Trees Camping Parches Ropa Patch Embroidered Patches For Clothing Iron On For Close Shoes Bags Badges Embroidery| | - AliExpress
Tell Stories Around the Campfire
We all love a good ghost story, but campfire tales don't necessarily have to be straight out of Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark. In fact, it might be even more fun if your family makes up its own tall tale, with one person continuing where the last one left off.
A Fire Pit Brings Your Family and Friends Together in the Fall
It's hide-and-seek — in the dark! But if you get caught in a flashlight beam, you're out! (Too hard? Glow stick bracelets might make the finding a little easier.)
Play flashlight tag. | 9 Nighttime Activities For Kids to Do in the Summer | POPSUGAR Family Photo 5
Even if you don't have a telescope, there are plenty of apps that will help you identify what's going around in the night sky above you, demystifying what you can see with the naked eye. Sometimes, the International Space Station even comes into view, and you don't need any instruments to spot it.
Bring the drive-in experience to your backyard. You'll need an outdoor projector (like this one, which has more than 10,600 positive reviews on Amazon) and a screen — or a white sheet, which might feel even more like a summer camp experience. Don't forget the popcorn!
How to Set Up a Backyard Movie Theater | Vanity Fair
If you have real little campers at home and you don't want them going near a real campfire, give them the version that uses their imaginations. Fisher-Price's role-playing camping set comes with fabric s'mores and a cloth fire to roast them on (made with crinkle paper). It even comes with a stuffed "axe" to split the "log" for the fire, and bear gloves in case a hungry animal wants to pretend to sneak in and steal the treats. (An inflatable campfire also works.)
Imaginative nature play | make a pretend campfire | Family Garden Life
Wake up With Breakfast Sandwiches
Breakfast is the most important camping meal, after all. With this egg-and-cheese receipe, you can even do a little prep — you can freeze it ahead of time if you think you'll be too overwhelmed cleaning up to make them from scratch.
Campfire Breakfast Sandwiches | Cabot Creamery