kids camping indoors
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Here's How To Take Your Family Camping In The Living Room, Because Mosquitoes

Maybe you have allergies, and you don’t want to spend your time sniffling and sneezing outside. Or maybe your idea of camping looks a whole lot more like glamping, complete with total access to your bedroom and bathroom. Or perhaps the idea of swatting away mosquitoes and incessantly spraying screaming kids with bug spray just isn’t your idea of a good time. That’s when you can look to bring the outdoors inside with these indoor camping ideas.

There are those who like roughing it (you know, nothing but you and nature... and a hole that you have to dig yourself for peeing.) And then there’s the rest of us, who like the idea of camping — that is, until you have to pack every item under the sun in order to sleep under the stars. But no matter which camp you belong to (get it?), you'll have a blast with these ideas for creating a campsite in your living room. After all, you never know when your big camping plans will get rained out at the last minute... and this year, it could be the case that your kid's summer camp has been (or will be) canceled. It won't be exactly like a night in the wilderness, but you can still create a totally cool camping experience under your own roof. It requires some effort, but the memories you can make with your family are going to be absolutely priceless.

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Set Up A Tent

Get ready to do some furniture moving, momma, because the single most important thing about indoor camping is having a tent. So start shifting some sofas, chairs, and tables around so that you can pitch a tent (like the one above from Delta Children) smack dab in the middle of your living room. Don’t have a tent? No problem. You can DIY your own digs by using sheets (and some chairs for hanging the sheets), pillows, and big blankets like the Seasons Blanket from Teema ($88, Teema). Measuring in at 94 inches x 71 inches, it's made from 100% Turkish cotton so it's soft and light (heavy blankets are more likely to make your "tent" collapse). It’ll definitely be more comfortable than sleeping in a sleeping bag.


Make Some S’mores

Just because you don’t have a traditional campfire doesn’t mean that you can’t serve up some s’mores. This sheet pan s'mores recipe from Dandies Marshmallows couldn't be easier: Just layer graham crackers, chocolate, and marshmallows in a sheet pan and broil in the oven until the marshmallows are golden brown and the chocolate is melty, or about 3 minutes. (You can also bake them at 400 degrees for 3 to 5 minutes.)


Cook Campfire Style

Maybe you have a grill inside, maybe you don't. Either way, you can still make campfire-style food in your kitchen, like these campfire nachos. Just a cast iron skillet and some foil will get you those authentic outdoorsy results. Other can't-miss options: hot dogs, burgers, s'mores (see above).


Go Fishing

If your family's outdoor camping traditions include fishing poles, set up a "fish pond" in the house (no water required). Follow the instructions in the Instagram post above for a DIY Fishing Game or figure out your own method — as long as you have some type of string and either paper clips or magnets in the house, you're good.


Turn Off The Lights

Part of the thrill of camping is that it gets dark — fast. So if you really want to recreate the outdoor camping experience, turn off all the lights in your home. If your kid can't sleep without their nightlight, the Terra Kids Tent Lamp from Haba (see above) can help make the dark a little less... well, dark. And you can shine it on the wall for a little shadow puppet action.


Stream A "Fire"

You'll probably want your indoor camping trip to be as screen-free as possible, but there is one spectacle you should consider streaming: a crackling campfire. Rubbing two sticks together in your living room is definitely a bad idea, but you can stream a video of a roaring fire in a beautiful mountain setting on your TV to have as background while you eat your oven-baked s'mores.


Make A Glow-in-the-Dark Craft

The perfect crafting activity for indoor camping is one that you can work on while it's still light and then play with when it gets dark, and these glow-in-the-dark "pop bottle" fireflies from One Little Project definitely fit the bill. You probably have most of the supplies lying around the house, too (empty soda or water bottles, googly eyes, pipe cleaners, etc.).


Read By Flashlight

Something about snuggling up with a book and a flashlight under a blanket in the dark makes reading seem like (even more of an) adventure. Put together a stack of camping-themed stories like I Love the Mountains by Lucy Darling, a beautifully illustrated book that'll make your kids feel like they're surrounded by nature: "I love the mountains, I love the rolling hills, I love the flowers, I love the daffodils, I love the fireside, when all the lights are low... "


Create A Starry Night

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There’s nothing like gazing up at the sky and seeing the stars so clearly while you’re camping. But when you’re camping indoors, all your kids are going to see are the ceiling. So a few hours before you plan to camp, string some lights up on the ceiling or inside the tent. You might even use some twinkle lights so that they’ll look just like the real thing. If you're in the market for a string, the ENO Twilights Camp Lights set ($25, Dick's Sporting Goods) comes with 125 LED lights and it's battery-powered just in case you ever want to use them for outdoor camping.


Start A Storytelling Circle

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When you've run out of books to read, start telling your own stories. To play the "Once Upon a Time" game, as described on the Scholastic website, the player chosen to begin the story starts with a few lines ("Once upon a time there was a little girl who got lost in the forest. Suddenly she heard a scary noise. A bear jumped out!"), then the next person adds a few lines, and so on until everyone's had a turn and the story is finished.