Summer vacation looks a little different this year. But if you have a yard, you can go camping without ever leaving home. Backyard camping is great for kids (or even grown-ups) who long to do something different – and it adds the sense of adventure to even the most mundane activities. Here are a few backyard camping ideas to get you started.
Backyard Camping Ideas
If your family has gone camping before, or if you have a scout at home, you might have some supplies already. Just pitch your tent in the backyard and you’re good to go. If you don’t have a tent at home, you could check out this list of camping supplies to order one online – or you could make one!
To make a backyard camping tent, string a line between two trees or poles and drape a large drop cloth or sheet over it. This is perfect if you have a clothesline already set up in your backyard. If the weather is nice, you could even drag some sleeping bags outside and sleep under the stars. After all, you can always run back inside if you need to.
Once your tent is set up, make it comfy. Unlike a normal camping trip, you don’t have to pack everything into your car. You can bring whatever you want. Bring out some old blankets, comforters and pillows to make your tent into a cozy retreat. If the grown-ups are sleeping outside too, don’t be shy to introduce an air mattress into the mix. Your back will thank you later.
To create a little more ambiance in your campsite, put up some string lights. It will make the night even more magical, and will help the little ones who might otherwise be afraid of the dark.
A campfire is one of the most important things about a camping trip, but can you have one in your backyard? Check out the rules in your neighborhood for recreational fires and make sure your campfire is safe. If you already have a fire pit, that’s the place to do it. Always make sure children are attended around the fire, and extinguish your fire completely with water when you’re done.
If you don’t want to deal with the hassle of a fire, your barbecue is a great backyard camping idea for activities like making s’mores. And for something to tell stories around, bring out a lantern or a glowing prop.
Once you’ve got the fire, then you’ll need the food. A great way to do any sort of camp cooking is to roast whatever you can put on the end of a stick. This is perfect for foods like hotdogs and marshmallows. No matter what, you’ve got to do s’mores.
Another backyard camping idea for cooking over a fire is to use foil. Stuff veggies and meat into a tin foil packet, fold it shut and cook it right on the hot coals from your fire. For a quick foil packet tutorial, check out this video. Here are some specific foil packet recipes you might want to try.
The point of camping in your backyard is to shake things up a little. Sleeping in the great outdoors is just one part of the adventure. In addition to cooking up a hearty meal, you’ll want to have some other activities in your back pocket.
One simple and classic backyard camping idea is catching fireflies, which are probably floating around your yard anyway. Prepare glass jars beforehand by cleaning them and poking small holes in the lids. When the kids catch fireflies, you can put them in the jars to keep them as campsite guests. After a few hours, let them go again and watch them fly back off into the night. Kids love interacting with bugs, and the fireflies will add some magic to your campsite.
Another great activity you can do with supplies you’re already using is shadow puppets. With a lantern or flashlight and the side of the tent, you suddenly have your own shadow puppet theater. Whether you’re telling stories, playing with the kids or simply perfecting your rabbit ears, it’s fun for the whole family.
If the kids are a little older, you can spend the time telling ghost stories around the campfire. It’s a time-honored tradition because it’s always a good time – even if you’re not that good at telling stories, the atmosphere of the dark outdoors and the glowing campfire will help you out.
You could also use this opportunity to have an outdoor movie night. You could bring your laptop out into the backyard to watch a movie. If you want to make it even more special, you could even use a projector to screen it on the side of your house.
No matter what backyard camping ideas appeal to you, one of the best ways to get yourself in the camping mindset is to try and go without your phone for the night. It’ll help you bond with your family and get you away from society for a little bit – even if you’re a few steps away from your own home.
Have you ever gone backyard camping? What did you do? Let us know in the comments below!