Can't Travel? Camp in Your Backyard!

The coronavirus pandemic might have canceled your camping plans this summer, maybe because the campground is still closed or maybe your parents aren't comfortable with traveling right now.

Never fear! You can still go camping…in your backyard! You get to sleep under the stars without having to use a bathroom with a bare concrete floor and cinder block walls! (I've experienced the questionable delight of many campground bath houses!)

If you do decide to pup a tent out back, here are three things you can do for fun:

Put on shadow puppet show

You'll have to set up a tent, have a flashlight, and wait for nighttime. Once it's dark, set up the flashlight inside the tent so it shines on the wall and use your hands to make shadow puppets!

Make up your own scary story or act out an outrageous adventure for your family sitting outside, and take turns enjoying the show!

A blond girl plays with a puppet outdoors

Cook over the fire or on the grill

One of the best parts of camping is definitely the food. Somehow it just tastes different and SO GOOD when you cook outside! This is an activity you'll need your parents for too.

If you have a fire pit, you can try cooking hot dogs, burgers, or vegetables. (Check out some surprising campfire snacks here.) Or if you have a grill, make dinner with that.

Grilling tongs flip steaks over a fiery grill

For an extra challenge, plan your meals as if you were really going away. Pack a cooler with ice and all your cold ingredients and put together a bag or box with all your plates and utensils you'd normally use on a camping trip. Try to avoid using anything from the kitchen inside!

(Re-)Discover your backyard

You've played in your backyard for years! There's nothing new there, right? Think again! There's all kinds of plants and bugs and animals that you may have never taken the time to notice.

A nervous chipmunk watches the viewer from a woodpile

Take a few minutes on your backyard camping trip to find three different plants and try to find out what they are (not counting the grass!). You could borrow a nature guidebook from the library or have your parents help you search online for info about the plants.

Do the same for bugs and insects, if you dare! Search the ground around fences, sheds, and the outside walls of your house, or if your parents say it's alright, dig a hole in the ground to look for pill bugs, ants, or beetles. Once I found a frog that dug itself into the dirt, and on the same day, a beetle as big as my thumb!

A large beetle is held up on a stick against green grass

No matter if you're camping at a campground or in your backyard, get outside and be a part of Keys for Kids Radio's Summer of Fun!

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