Just like any other trip, you need to plan. Start with the number you plan on attending. If you’re doing this as part of an organization, be sure to consult any rules they have.
From there, determine the activities, food and space you’ll need. Make a tentative schedule with your campers to start the process.
2. Cleaning up.
Before camping in your backyard, be sure to clean it up. From picking up sticks and rocks to removing animal waste to trimming bushes, you’ll want everything neat and tidy. This will minimize the chances of anyone getting hurt in the dark.
3. Night safety.
Moving around at night can be hazardous. There are steps you can take to make it less so. Walk around your backyard at night. What things might your campers need to be aware of? What safety concerns might come up in your backyard? Can you do something to minimize these? Prepare to share these items with your campers.
4. Insects and allergies.
Many people have allergies. This includes insect repellent. If you are planning on using anything your campers might be allergic to, be sure at least two people know what to do in case of an allergy attack. Be prepared with health forms in case you need to go to the emergency room.
5. Camp buddies.
Insist on the buddy system. It keeps anyone from wandering off on their own. Also, be sure everyone knows they are not to leave the property without adult consent.
6. Glow bracelets.
Kids love glow bracelets, but they can have a multitude of uses.
- Mark cords or tripping hazards
- On outside door to identify someone is using the bathroom / is indoors
- Play hide and seek with sticks in the dark
- Place in balloons, glasses of water, etc. to add glow or support a theme
Find other ways to use glow sticks for safety and fun.
7. Parent partners.
If you have a potential camper who is completely terrified of backyard camping, you may want your first experience to include a same-sex parent. Evaluate your campers. Will each be able to make the entire night? Are there other ways you can include parents at the beginning or end to help reduce camper stress?
Everyone has rules for their house. Classrooms have rules. Troops and groups have rules. Make a set of rules for your backyard campout. Include your campers in the creation of your list.
9. Kaper charts.
With a larger group, be sure to make kaper charts (or the equivalent) so everyone knows what jobs they are to do. For smaller groups, you can do everything together, but the practice of making and following a kaper chart is good practice for anyone.
Do you have enough tents for everyone? Are you doing large tents or will everyone have their own small pop-up? Discuss tents and how everyone will be sleeping.
Not only do you want to plan for any meals or snacks (including s’mores), you may want to limit the snacks that are brought in by your campers. A lot of sugar may keep them up late and disturb others. Some foods may attract wildlife. Review how you plan to handle food.
12. Night games.
Choose a game or two and see how you can adapt it so you can continue to play after the sun goes down. Alternatively, you can check out the Enrichment Project badge program “Night Games” for more on games you can play at night.
13. Camp crafts.
Explore camp crafts. Pick one that you’d like to do before or during your backyard camping event. These might include:
- Sit upons
- Water bottle holder
Brainstorm a list of crafts you’ve made at camp or ones you’d like to try. Make samples and get feedback from your campers.
14. Edible fire.
Don’t want a real fire? Perhaps you want to practice before doing the real thing. Teaching how with food is a great way to do this. It can also serve double duty as a snack. Look at how to make an edible fire.
15. Fire pits.
Most people don’t have a specified area for burning in their yard. Fire pits have become popular, so you no longer have to damage your lawn. Prepare to instruct your campers on fire safety, how to start a fire and how to put one out.
You may think ghost stories are the only stories worth hearing at a camp fire. Some people don’t like ghost stories and younger campers may be too scared to sleep. What rules might you put in place to determine the stories you tell? Should you limit who tells the stories or should you take turns? Prepare a few stories as examples of what you’d like.
17. Sing along.
Singing around a fire is a lot of fun. From traditional songs to popular ones, there are way more songs to sing than you can do in a single night. Brainstorm ways you might choose which songs to sing.
Planning on looking up at the sky? Be prepared to identify at least a couple constellations and know the story behind at least one.
19. More to do?
You may be planning to do things not covered in this badge program. That’s great! Be sure to check and make sure the activities are safe and if they fall under instructions from your organization.
See the Enrichment Project badge program “Night Games”
Sites to Explore
To download a PDF of this badge program, click here: EP_Backyard Camping