Backyard Camping

If you want to camp out, but can’t get away from your neighborhood why not do a little backyard camping!? It’s all the fun of camping without so much hiking!


If you think this sounds like fun, here are few ideas from Dot and Mae.

First you will need a campsite – maybe your family owns a tent or you can borrow one from someone you know, but if you don’t have a tent, don’t despair – there are several alternatives to pitching a tent. First, you could just roll your sleeping bags or blankets out on the grass and gaze up at the stars while you sleep. If you think you’d like a little shelter you can pitch a homemade tent. There are several kinds of homemade tents but Dot and Mae like to make a “Clothesline Tent” when they camp out. You can also use a clothesline tent for a clubhouse or fort when you are playing outside – just make sure you don’t use your mom’s good blankets and you should be fine!


Here is a drawing of a simple clothesline tent. Just drape blankets or sheets across the wires and clip them securely with clothespins. A parent or tall sibling might have to help you if you have trouble reaching the clothesline! You can make your tent into any shape or design that you like. Here is a style that has an open roof for stargazing:


What other items will you need at your campsite? You might want to have a few good flashlights (helpful when you need to make a run back to the house to use the bathroom or get more snacks). You will probably need some insect repellent, a canteen (or thermos) of water and some snacks. Luckily if you think of anything else you need it’s not too far to go and get it.

If you plan to BBQ dinner in the backyard — use the coals to roast marshmallows. Adults can roast the marshmallows for very young children, but you must explain safe conduct around the fire and hot BBQ, and constant supervision is required. If you don’t want to go to all that trouble, just make smores in the microwave and bring them outside! For smores toast marshmallows over a fire until brown outside and soft and warm inside (or heat them for a few seconds in the microwave). Lay a Hershey bar on top of one graham cracker. Top with a hot marshmallow and place another graham cracker on top. Squish down slightly. The chocolate will melt a little bit and the whole concoction is a dream.

Another easy snack is popcorn or trailmix. For trailmix you just take a baggie, and fill it with a mixture of peanuts, raisins, dried cranberries, M&Ms, chopped dried fruit like pineapple, apricots or dates, dried banana chips, Skittles, chocolate or carob chips, pretzels, and whatever else sounds good. It’s easy to make and fun to eat!

When you get settled with your snacks it’s time to have some fun! Camping out is always a good time to have some singalongs! (If you live close to neighbors, you’ll probably want to use your best judgement about how loud you want to sing!)

Here are a few popular campfire songs that you probably know the tune to. If not, ask your parents – they probably know plenty of songs from their childhood that they’d love to share with you.

Boom, Boom Ain’t It Great To Be Crazy?

Way down south where bananas grow
A flea stepped on a elephant’s toe
The elephant cried with tears in his eyes
“Why don’t you pick on someone your own size?”

Chorus (sing after every verse)
Boom, Boom, ain’t it great to be Crazy?
Boom, Boom, ain’t it great to be Crazy?
Giddy and Foolish all day long
Boom, Boom, ain’t it great to be Crazy!

Way up north where there’s ice and snow
There was a penguin and his name was Joe
He got tired of black and white
So he wore pink slacks to the dance last night!

A horse and a flea and three blind mice
Sat on the curbstone shooting dice
The horse, he slipped and fell on the flea
Woops! Said the flea, there’s a horse on me!

I bought a suit of combination underwear
Guaranteed not to rip or tear
I wore them six months and to my consternation
I couldn’t get the darned thing off, I’d lost the combination!

I love myself. I think I’m grand.
When I go to movies, I hold my hand.
I put my arm around my waist,
And when I get fresh, I slap my face.

I call myself on the telephone
Just to hear my musical tone.
I ask myself for a heavy date,
And I pick myself up at half past eight.

Fuzzy Wuzzy was a bear,
And Fuzzy Wuzzy cut his hair.
So, Fuzzy Wuzzy wasn’t fuzzy.
No, by Jove, he wasn’t, was he?

Early one morning in the middle of the night
Two dead boys went out to fight
Back to back they faced each other
Drew their swords and shot each other!

I take a swim in my swimming pool.
I jump from the board ’cause that’s the rule.
I hit my head on cement and mortar.
Forgot to look – there was no water.

That one-eared cat who used to sit
Watching Grandma rock and knit
Swallowed a ball of bright red yarn,
And out came kittens with red sweaters on.

Be Kind to Your Web-Footed Friends

Be kind to your web-footed friends,
For a duck may be somebody’s mother,
They live in a swamp all alone,
Where the weather is always damp.
You may think that this is the end,
It is, but to prove I’m a liar,
We’re going to sing it again,
Only this time a little bit high-er

The Bear Went over the Mountain
The bear went over the mountain
The bear went over the mountain
The bear went over the mountain
To see what he could see.
And all that he could see
And all that he could see
Was the other side of the mountain,
The other side of the mountain
The other side of the mountain
Was all that he could see.

Ants go Marching
The ants go marching one-by-one Hurrah! Hurrah!
The ants go marching one-by-one Hurrah! Hurrah!
The ants go marching one-by-one
The little one stopped to suck his thumb
And they all went marching
Down, to the ground
The ants go marching two-by-two…

Continue the verses with these changes:
Two-by-two: tie his shoe
Three-by-three: climb a tree
Four-by-four: close the door
Five-by-five: Do a jive
Six-by-six: pick up sticks
Seven-by-seven: go to Heaven
Eight-by-eight: close the gate
Nine-by-nine: check the time
Ten-by-ten: start again



Flashlight Tag

This is a fun game to play if you live in an area with few streetlights or city lights. Every player gets a flashlight and everyone runs around the yard, hiding from the flashlight beams while trying to spot other players with flashlights.

Ghost in the Graveyard

Choose one person to be the ghost. He hides, while all the other players go to “base” and count, “One o’clock, 2 o’clock, 3 o’clock . .” all the way to “11 o’clock, midnight!” At “midnight” players go searching for the ghost. When he’s found, the finder yells, “Ghost in the Graveyard” and all players try to make it safely back to base before the ghost tags them. Whoever is tagged is the ghost for the next round.


When everyone is tired and ready to wind down it a perfect time to lie back and do some stargazing. Try to find a constellation or spot a shooting star! Here is a website that can give you some information about stargazing!

Lastly, if it suddenly starts to rain – grab your gear and make a mad dash for the house!




One thought on “Backyard Camping

  1. emily r

    omgosh!! i love the boom boom song!! and the ants go marching one too…we used to sing them in girl scouts all the time!! but i gotta say that ive nvr been camping in my backyard…it sounds fun tho…maybe ill try it someday!!


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