Camping in the great outdoors is a lot of fun, but weather can sometimes put a damper on the best-laid outdoor camping plans. Fortunately, we've got some ideas to help you set up an awesome indoor camp-out for kids.
1. Pitch a Tent
Just because it's raining doesn't mean you can't pitch a tent, like in your family room. Move the sofa and coffee table to clear a space, then set up like you would as if you were outside. Don't have a tent? This DIY indoor kid fort can easily double as a camping tent, at least while indoors. Or go really old school and gather up sheets, blankets and pillows to build a cozy blanket fort.
2. Make a Campfire
Even if you're inside, you can still make a campfire. As in, a tissue paper campfire. It's super easy to make, too. Start with a tree trunk slice. You can find them on Etsy, but many craft stores also carry them. Next, crumple up dark and light brown construction paper for the base to look like logs, then add red, orange and yellow tissue paper for the flames.
3. It's All About the Snacks
Camping snacks are a must, and s'mores are the most important of all snacks. If you're inside, carefully toast marshmallows over the stove. Alternatively, place a graham cracker, piece of chocolate and marshmallow in the microwave for 15 seconds. Once it's cooked, add the second graham cracker. Kids will also love snack mixes, pigs in a blanket, popcorn and campfire cones.
4. Play Camping Games
Get into the spirit of camping with a selection of fun indoor games, like nature bingo and charades. Another fun idea is glow-in-the-dark ring toss. Start with glow bracelets or necklaces that you can use as rings. Place the glow sticks inside water bottles, and toss the rings over the bottles. Or simply break out the crayons and print camping-themed coloring pages.
5. Fun After Dark
Kids love lanterns and flashlights, and there are lots of ways to have fun with these items after dark. Have a fun shadow puppet show, a flashlight scavenger hunt or play flashlight limbo (the light beam from the flashlight serves the same purpose as the limbo pole). Space permitting, try flashlight tag — one of the oldest and most fun games to play with flashlights.
6. Read Camping-Themed Books
Little ones will love to read camping-themed books. (By flashlight or lantern, of course.) There are loads of cute picture books that will get kids excited about camping, too. A few to check out include Curious George Goes Camping, Llama Llama Loves Camping and S is for S'mores: A Camping Alphabet. Another idea is to create silly stories with Camp Daze Mad Libs.
7. Get Comfy
Comfort is key, especially when you're sleeping on the floor of your family room or the floor of a forest when you go camping outside. Get comfortable, but also emulate real-life camping as much as you can so little ones can get to know and love the experience even before they've entered a campground. Look for comfy sleeping bags, as well as camping pads that go underneath, to make a more relaxing night's sleep.
8. Sleep Under the Stars
Even though your kids won't be able to see the actual stars when sleeping indoors, they can still feel as though they're under the stars thanks to well-placed twinkle lights. Hang them from the ceiling or drape them over the tent to make it appear as if they are stars. Another idea is to buy glow-in-the-dark stars that you can stick on the ceiling.
9. Have a Picnic
One of the best parts about camping is being able to cook and eat outside. So instead of eating dinner at the kitchen table, break out the folding camping chairs or lay out a picnic blanket on the floor of the family room for an indoor picnic. Make camping faves, like burgers, grilled chicken and hot dogs. You may even want to try foil packet meals cooked in the oven.
10. It's More Fun With Friends
Everything is more fun when you're with friends, so have each child invite one or two friends to share in the indoor camping experience. Play games, eat tasty snacks, then end the evening with a movie night. Bonus points if you pick a family-friendly movie that involves camping, like The Parent Trap or The Great Outdoors.