6 Tips for Backyard Camping

Do your kids spend a lot of time inside? If so, they're not alone.

By the time children go to kindergarten, they've spent more than 5,000 hours in front a television—enough time to earn a college degree, according to the National Wildlife Federation.

More: Do Your Kids Suffer From Nature Deficit Disorder?

If you think you have to go far to spend more than a few hours outside, think again. Plan a backyard camping trip so you can bond as a family, breathe in some much-needed fresh air, and get your kids away from the TV. Here are six tips to make the most of your family camping "trip."

1. Plan Fun Games

Games, especially those that involve running and being silly, get kids excited. But that's not the only benefit.

"Play provides an opportunity to learn and practice a wide array of physical, cognitive, and social skills," according to educators at ResponsiveClassroom.org.

Here are a few backyard camping games that you and your little ones can play together:

Scavenger hunt: Before camping, make a list of plants, natural features and items in your backyard. Use this list for your scavenger hunt. If there isn't much to discover in your backyard, try hiding items. Just be sure to add it to the list. Don't forget to have a prize ready for the winner.

Obstacle course: Get your little ones active with a backyard obstacle course, using natural objects, like stumps, or a few things sitting in your garage such as old tires or rope.

Sack races: Buy leaf sacks from the hardware store and use them to hop from one end of the yard to the other. Compete in multiple heats such as:

  • Parents vs. kids
  • Girls vs. boys
  • Singles

More: Road Trip Games for Kids

Listen and Learn: As you wind down at the end of the day, play the listen and learn game. While you sit around the campfire or wait for dinner to finish on the barbecue, listen for birds and outdoor sounds. If you can't identify the sound, have your kids make their own story about it.

2. Go Exploring

Make backyard camping as close to the real thing as possible. If you have access to woods and trails from your house, take a walk. If not, ride bikes to the nearest park, where you and your kids can explore, just like you would at the campground. Bring snacks to keep everyone fueled; let your kids help make the ultimate trail mix.

More: Geocaching: A New Way to Explore

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