Nothing says summer like camping. Unfortunately, nothing says chaos like camping with kids. Enter the backyard campout: low on stress, high on thrills, chock-full of the fun stuff that camping's all about (including plenty of dirt), all within shouting distance of clean bathrooms and a stocked fridge. Add in a few of our easy games and treats -- perfect for kids of all ages -- and you'll have a camping trip to write, er, home about.
Squirrel Tag One person is the squirrel catcher; everyone else is a squirrel, clinging to his own tree (if your yard is treeless, you can use lawn chairs). When the catcher shouts "Squirrel scramble!" the squirrels have to dash to another tree without being tagged. Once you get tagged, you're the new squirrel catcher.
Hop and Crawl Turn backyard paraphernalia into an amazing obstacle course. You can have kids leap over the garden hose, army-crawl under the patio table, do a lap around the flower beds, then hop through a hula-hoop back to the beginning. Older kids can race each other, but littler ones might prefer to best their own times. Once they have, break out a celebratory glass of lemonade.
Bucket Brigade Divide your family into two teams and give each a pitcher of water. At the word "Go," each team races to transfer all the water in their pitcher to a kiddie pool. But you can only use small paper cups to do it. Whether you work willy-nilly or form a bucket brigade, everyone will end up sopping wet -- and have a blast.
Dance Mania Plop the family down in patio chairs (one for each person), turn up some music, and then have your littlest family member stand up and dance. As she taps others on the head, they get up and start boogying, too. When the dance leader cries "Dance-off!" everyone has to dance as fast as they can. When she says "Dance over," players race for their seats. The last one to sit down becomes the new dance leader.
Catch the Bunny Start passing a small rubber ball -- the bunny -- around a circle. After a few seconds, toss in a beach ball to pass around, too; that's the farmer, who's desperate to catch that darn rabbit. If you're holding the bunny when the farmer catches up to it, you're out. To make this game even trickier -- and more hilarious -- have the rabbit go in only one direction around the circle, but allow the farmer to travel any which way in his attempt to snare his nemesis.