Our family loves to have at least one indoor camping “trip” each year, and they each come with their own memories. There was that one time we actually wanted to camp out in the backyard, but inclement weather forced us to rethink our plans. So we all huddled inside a blanket fort in the living room, enjoying the spooky flashes of lightning and the warm blankets. Then there was the time we helped our girls camp in the playroom with two of their cousins and listened to them giggling in their sleeping bags into the night. Every time, we’ve all thoroughly enjoyed ourselves!
Indoor camping is an incredibly fun way to get your family excited about the outdoors—even when your kids can’t or aren’t ready to sleep under the stars themselves. It’s also a beautiful way to shake things up and try something new together. Follow along with these four steps and get indoor camping ideas to give your family an experience they’ll be so excited to repeat.
The first time we ever took our girls “camping,” we did quite a bit of preparation ahead of time to make sure they were comfortable and excited about the idea. We read lots of children’s stories about camping, including a particularly adorable Curious George picture book. We taught them a couple of our favorite camping songs (“On Top of Spaghetti” was always my favorite). And when the big night arrived, we surprised our girls with some really adorable blankets and pillows featuring outdoor adventure artwork and brought them downstairs to the living room for a safe and cozy introduction to camping—indoors! Get your kids involved in the camping preparations, perhaps by making a fun campfire craft together.
|Craft an indoor star projector! Raid your pantry and empty out a large cardboard cylinder (like an oats container), carefully cutting out the top and bottom circle pieces. Let the kids decorate the outside however they like, perhaps with fun camping stickers! Do some research online or let your kids help you find images of constellations in a library book. Trace the constellations onto the cardboard circles you cut out. Use a pencil or a push pin to make small holes for each of the stars. Place this “star circle” on one end of the can, shine a bright flashlight through the other end, and marvel at the stars that magically appear inside your fort! We followed this helpful tutorial to make our own star projectors.|
While we do have a family tent and frequently use it when we go outdoor camping, it’s much more fun to make your own little den in the living room when it’s time to camp indoors. We usually keep our living room clear and picked up throughout the day, so when I give my girls the go-ahead to make a “big mess” and leave it overnight, it’s quite the special treat for them!
When it’s time to go indoor camping, we like to gather every single soft thing we can find, pile it all on the living room floor, and start getting creative. We bring in the kitchen chairs, move the living room furniture around, and create the perfect den-shaped space for our tent to take shape. To form the walls, I help my girls drape large king-size sheets and anchor them with canned goods from the pantry. They often like to make a decorative “tent-flap” out of their camping-themed Sherpa blanket, which perfectly sets the stage for sleeping bag shenanigans. To pad the floor, we pile in every single pillow in the house—and we definitely have our share of cute throw pillows to use.
Throw Pillows by Mouse + Magpie
Usually at this point in the evening, my girls are ready for some serious camp food, and I love to make the experience as realistic as possible. We eat off of paper plates, sit on floor pillow cushions on the ground, and usually enjoy grilled hot dogs with all the trimmings. This summer, I also sliced up wedges of sweet, juicy watermelon—a healthy treat that my youngest absolutely adores.
For dessert, we always enjoy the quintessential camping treat: s’mores. In our family, we love to substitute the traditional milk chocolate for some decadent Ghirardelli squares—we love the ones with caramel inside! It’s a really special treat for my girls (and, let’s be honest, for me too).
|Make s’mores indoors! Lay a few graham cracker halves on a rimmed baking sheet and place a medium-sized marshmallow on each one. Bake at 450 degrees or low broil for a few minutes, or just until browned. Don’t forget: It’s really easy to burn these little guys! Once done, carefully place one of these half-smores on a small paper plate for each of your kids and let them top the marshmallow with chocolate and another graham cracker piece, perfectly ready for smooshing and devouring.|
The Journey Sherpa Blanket by Judith Loske
By now on our camping adventure, we have brought in stuffed animals, camping-related toys (we had to pack an entire bag of pretend food, of course!), and storybooks to the living room “tent.” We repurpose a couple of my girls’ adorable bedside lamps to shine a soft light around the blanket fort and pile inside with flashlights, crawling under the soft blankets and cuddling together in a big happy heap. We tell stories. We sing our camping songs. We share childhood and “remember when” moments. And we make incredibly fun memories that I hope our girls will remember for the rest of their lives.
Loving the decorating ideas we’ve shared here?
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