You can't deny a warm fire, s'mores, and the great outdoors—right? Join the Great American Backyard Campout! On June 22, families across New Jersey and nationwide will be pitching tents and rolling out sleeping bags as part of the Great American Campout. Sponsored by the National Wildlife Federation, the event aims to get more kids and families outdoors and enjoying nature. Participating is easy; just register online for free, and then campout in your own backyard. Larger group campouts are also organized, so visit to learn if there’s one in your area. You’ll also find packing lists, recipes, nature games, and fundraising information and prizes.

If regular campground camping seems a little, um, ambitious for your family—try pitching a tent in the backyard! (Our favorite part? Extra bug spray and indoor plumbing is just a short sprint away)

Feeling social? Invite friends and make it a party! (Find awesome camp out party ideas below.)

Camp Out

The Look

Invoking the feeling of the great outdoors is what this party is all about, so begin by inviting visitors into your backyard campground with a sign that says “Camp [insert your child’s name here].” The centerpiece of said yard will be a fire pit, of course; surround it with handmade tents decorated with children’s names. Extra points for peppering your yard with signs that say things like “Do not feed the wildlife” and one that indicates the “trails” to campground landmarks, such as a kiddie swimming pool “pond.”

Camp Out

The Eats

You’ll make for a troop of happy campers with classic grilled dogs and burgers. Be sure to provide plenty of mustard and ketchup, along with trail mix in handy snack bags. Don’t forget about setting up a table with s’mores fixins. Jerky will be a surefire hit, too. For a breakfast of champions, pre-stock the fridge with bagels or whip up these campfire breakfast potatoes—a recipe that's sure to please!

Camp Out

The Fun

Provide each child with her own rod for a fishing trip to the kiddie pool. Also incorporate summer camp activities such as potato sack races and beanbag tosses. The afternoon will culminate with roasting s’mores around the fire pit. If you really want to go for authenticity, forgo the play tents for real ones, inviting families to pitch their own in your yard for the night. End the evening with ghost stories around the fire pit.

Camp Out

The Favors

You can’t go wrong handing out stuff like flashlights, canteens, and/or compasses. Incorporate them into your day of play and let the kids take them home. Mini survival kits (bandaids, etc.) would be unique!