Hi there! This is a bit of a different post for you than my usual. With the kids home for the summer, entertaining them has become a big priority. Where we live its often too hot for comfort during the summer, and my kids are still a bit too young for overnight outdoor camping. As for me, I’m more a a “Troop Beverly Hills” kind of camping girl. If you’ve never seen the movie, it’s about a woman who takes over a girl scout troop. In one scene, after an attempt at camping out one night, they end up at the Beverly Hills Hotel. I’m much more comfortable indoors than out. So I decided to set up an indoor camping party for my kids to enjoy all day and into the evening last week. They loved it! I thought I would share some of my tips and tricks for setting up a great indoor camping party for your family.
An indoor camping party is also a great alternative for kids who have sensory sensitivities, allergies, extreme fears (like dark or bugs), or medical issues that require access to running water or electricity. One of my sons breaks out in hives when he gets too hot, nervous, or is around too many allergens, so this is a great activity for him. The best part is that you can customize my suggestions to fit your child’s particular preferences and comforts.
Indoor Camping Party
“Campsite” Set Up
I like to clear a large space in our living room, but you can find space in the basement, attic, or even a bedroom. You just need enough space for a tent or blanket fort and some room to play.
For indoor camping you can set up your own fort with a blanket and chairs. But if you plan of doing indoor camping regularly, you might want to get a tent! I have a fairly large indoor play tent that I found on Amazon for only around $40, and it’s held up beautifully for almost 4 years now. You can find all different styles, but we just went with a traditional tent so there would be no fighting over a castle for the girls versus a train for the boys.
All four of my kids can fit quite comfortably. Now we just need to add a few things to the tent to make it extra cozy. Use what you have around the house. I love shopping my house for things that can be moved to the living room for a few hours to make activities extra fun.
To simulate stars, I used battery operated wire lights and strung them on the top of the tent. You can also use battery operated Christmas lights. If your kids are older and you don’t worry about plugs with them, you can also use standard plug in Christmas lights as well.
First I laid down a big fluffy comforter in the bottom of the tent. Then I took a reading pillow from my room and had the kids bring blankets from their rooms to make the tent comfy.
My special contribution was a basket of books. I don’t know why, but books placed in a basket and tucked into a tent are so inviting to kids even when there’s a bookshelf a few feet away.
Here’s how the tent looked all set up! Of course the kids ended up bringing out extra pillows and all their stuffed animals. So the tent got even more fluffy by the time we were done.
If you’re big into scents, you can also use a candle or a reed diffuser with a woodsy scent to make it feel even more like camping.
I like to keep things simple on camp days. I pan fried a few hot dogs and served them with bbq chips and some fresh strawberries for lunch.
Then, of course, my famous microwave smores. I grew up in the city, and I can only think of a small handful of times as a child that I had a smore cooked over a bonfire. (Woo! Jr. does have a Smores from scratch recipe, if you’re interested!) Usually the only option was to make smores over the stove top burners, but that’s not very safe and can end up in a big mess. The day I discovered that you can also make smores in the microwave was a revelation. Here’s how it’s done.
First, if you haven’t tried making smores with chocolate graham crackers, what are you waiting for? They’re the best. I just lay out some folded paper towels, break a graham cracker in half and lay it out on the towel. I add one square of chocolate on top. I’ve found that more than one square equals chocolate dripping all over clothes, and no one likes to stop the fun to change clothes. Top it with a marshmallow, and pop it in the microwave for 10 seconds until the marshmallow puffs up and gets soft.
Top it with the other graham cracker, and you’re good to go! My kids love these. I love that I don’t always have to break out the grill to make smores.
To top it off I like to give them each a bowl of popcorn to snack on too.
Indoor Camping Party Activities
Love the little feet all lined up! Now for activities during the camping party. Some ideas that my kids love are the basket full of books, camping coloring pages, and pretend play with felt food or their stuffed animals. They also love watching movies on camping nights. Some of our favorite camp themed movies are Troop Beverly Hills, The Parent Trap, Camp Rock, and Heavyweights. You can also have a blast when it gets dark with flashlights, shadow puppets, and ghost stories. If you have a star projector or nightlight, you can set that up too and try to find the constellations.
I hope you got learned some great ideas from our family’s favorites, and are inspired to try an indoor camping party of your own!