At a certain point, the idea of a family campout will become the second-most fun activity the kids can imagine. First? Camping without mom and dad. Fair enough. Nobody likes a tentmate who keeps asking if you've brushed your teeth yet.
For little ones, camping all alone in the backyard is a terrific way to dip their toes in the waters of independence. In general, it's a pretty safe way for helicopter parents to slowly lift off a little. It also might even pose a decent time to have a down-to-earth conversation with your kids about how to stay safe in their neighborhood.
A lot more fun is the conversation about how to stay safe in the wilderness. Brainstorm with the kids some things you'd need on a real camping trip, and collect what you can around the house. Flashlights, warm blankets, bug spray, provisions of trail mix -- all the important things you needs to set up camp. Add in a compass for a lesson on determining direction in the outdoors. Or a lesson on where north is, at least.