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How to create an Army-style Day Camp in the Woods

Posted by Gav Grayston.
First Published Oct 2017; updated May 2023.

Do you have kids that like to 'play army'? Use your camping skills and take them on a day camp.

So our youngest and his friends love 'playing soldiers'. They all have little camo uniforms, Nerf guns, and lots of energy!

They also love playing outside.

Kids walking off to make camp

NERF guns at the ready. This squad are off to take the woods!

But what if you can't camp overnight, either as you don't have time, or you aren't allowed to camp in the woods?

What if you're not allowed to camp?

There's a really simple solution: make a day camp!

A day camp can be great fun, and you don't need to take as much stuff.

The kids can still enjoy some of the experience if you make a den and cook lunch.

At the den

Spending the afternoon in the den. This was all new to our lad's friends.

Creating our day camp den

For this, we took some of the gear that we got from Military 1st and made a simple den in the woods using a tarp. The camo netting added to the whole army feel, and the boys absolutely loved it.

Clearing leaves away from the stove and the den

Not surprisingly, campfires were prohibited in this wood, but we took a little camping gas stove instead, and simply cooked hot dogs.

lunch on the gas stove

Keeping it simple: hot dogs for lunch

Again, the boys really loved this, especially our lad's friends, who aren't used to doing this sort of thing.

This Camp-a-box set was perfect for their Army themed picnic


Once you've set up your camp for the day, you have a base from which to play plenty of games.

If the weather turns bad, or they get too tired, you now have somewhere dry and clean to take shelter.

We played a number of games. Capture the flag went down really well!

The den

Basecamp for the day.

Things we took

You might already have a lot of items in your family's camping gear to make a quick day camp. If you want to make it 'Army Themed' then here's some of the gear we took.

Mil-Tec Multi-Purpose Tarp

A Mil-Tec Multi-Purpose Tarp created the main part of the shelter, stringing it up between some trees.

Mil-Tec Poncho Liner

A Mil-Tec Poncho Liner provided the kids with some ground insulation and made their den a great place to sit.


Paracord helped us string the tarp up between the trees.

CamoSystems Broadleaf Camo Net

This CamoSystems Broadleaf Camo Net added the perfect dressing for their Army -themed den

Mini Folding Shovel

The kids used this Mini Folding Shovel to remove some of the leaves near their camp

Highlander 12L Scout Pack

Our lad took his gear in this 12L Scout Pack. An ideal small Army backpack for kids.

ProForce First Aid Kit

Inside the Scout Pack, or lad carried this first aid kit... just in case of accidents


And for lunch, this Camp-A-Box helped continue the Army theme

Stove Windshield

This stove windshield was a useful bit of kit to maximise the use of our gas

The Campingaz Twister stove was perfect for this. Lightweight to take and easy to use.