If you’re looking for an easy and inexpensive activity, try backyard camping.
With the tips and tricks below, you’ll turn your backyard into your own personal campsite.
And best of all, you don’t have to bother packing the car, the kids, or even the dog.
You have just about everything you need and you’re close to home!
1. What is backyard camping?
It’s exactly what it sounds like.
Camping in the backyard.
It’s a great way for families to ease into real camping, get outside, or utilize land right near their house without requiring an additional reservation.
2. What backyard camping supplies do you need?
Don’t run off to your local outdoor supply store before you need to.
You don’t need a lot of fancy equipment for backyard camping, and that’s why a lot of families love it.
Here’s the core of what you need.
Sleeping bags or bedrolls
For kids, they may enjoy packing a little bag with the following as well:
Change of clothes
Other fun camping supplies that can make the experience feel more “real” include:
Food to barbecue
3. How do you pick your backyard camping site?
There are a few factors to consider when selecting your campsite.
Cooking and eating
You want somewhere to build a campfire as well as set up a table and chairs
You want somewhere to pitch your tent or other sleeping arrangements
Activities or games
You want an area with enough space to play
Overall, you don’t need a ton of space for backyard camping, but you do need a designated space for each of these three things as eating, sleeping, and spend. ing time outside are the components of a successful camping trip.
4. What sleeping arrangements are available for backyard camping?
Is it your first-time backyard camping?
Are you wondering if you should pitch a tent or sleep below the stars?
Here are all your options, so you can figure out what’s right for you and your family.
Tent camping is a go-to for most families.
This will give you an authentic camping feel.
Plus, if you’re using this as a trial run, you’ll be able to practice setting up and breaking down the tent with the whole family.
If you want a super fun way to sleep outside, hang some hammocks!
Hammocks with mosquito netting are your best bet to avoid being eaten alive overnight.
We recommend this option for older families with kids who can get in and out of the hammocks safely on their own.
If you live in a warm and dry place, sleeping bags can be a great option.
There’s no better memory than sleeping below the stars for the first time.
When camping in the summer months, a lightweight sleeping bag is normally the best option.
You can also rough it a bit more with just some blankets and pillows if you don’t have sleeping bags on hand.
5. What are the benefits of backyard camping?
When executed properly, backyard camping has just as many benefits as regular camping.
Here’s why you should consider this activity for your family this summer.
Backyard camping gets out you in the fresh air and sunshine
Your body functions with less strain when it receives more oxygen.
Spending time outside improves your blood pressure, improves your digestion, and gives your immune system an overall boost.
Additionally, being outside allows you to absorb more direct sunlight, which provides you with vitamin D.
Backyard camping allows you to socialize
Camping with others allows you a chance to step back from the daily stress of your life and spend time with people you love.
Socializing in this format can help to extend your lifespan and delay memory problems.
Backyard camping improves your mood
Spending time outside can help to level out the melatonin in the brain.
This allows you to enjoy a better overall mood during and after your trip.
Don’t be surprised if you notice you’re in a better mood after you camp in your backyard.
Backyard camping lowers your stress levels
Stress puts strain on you both physically and mentally.
When stress levels decline it’s because your oxygen levels rise along with your serotonin and melatonin levels.
We know that camping contributes to a rise in all these levels and thus positively lowers your stress.
Backyard camping gives you opportunities to exercise
When you camp, you spend a lot of time performing physical activity.
You hike, bike, fish, etc.
While backyard camping has fewer strenuous activities related to it — after all, you’re only outside your house — you can still make an effort to be active with the games you play as a family.
Backyard camping helps you get a good night’s sleep
When you camp, you usually sleep according to the sun.
This means you’re getting a full night of rest, which can help to reduce inflammation, improve your cardiovascular system, and help you stay alert.
Research has shown that campers have better sleep cycles after they return from a camping trip.
Backyard camping promotes healthy eating
The foods you eat during backyard camping are typically devoid of preservatives and unnatural ingredients.
The staples of any camping diet include protein and healthy fats.
Backyard camping presents new challenges
Camping is never the same experience.
This means that your brain will always be stimulated when you’re camping because you’ll be presented with new challenges and need to problem-solve.
We love this benefit for children because it’s a constant teaching opportunity!
6. What activities can you do?
Pull out the slackline and set it up for your kids to play on.
It’s a simple way to stay entertained outside for hours.
Order a pack of 100 glow sticks and watch your children’s faces light up (no pun intended!).
Your children will love wearing them as bracelets and necklaces, and they can also use them to play a ring toss game.
Bring out all your flashlights into the backyard and wait for it to get dark.
Then, make up your own rules and play several rounds of flashlight tag to tire everyone out!
If your area has fireflies, then your kids will love using mason jars to collect and observe them as they glow.
Just make sure you release them after around 15 minutes, so they can find their mate and make more fireflies for the future.
Go for a family walk or hike before it gets dark.
Camping is all about getting out and enjoying the great outdoors.
Why not do a little extra exploring?
Try your hand at bird watching.
Depending on your geographic location, you can find a wide variety of birds with neat visual traits.
Apps are great resources for identification.
Find shapes and figures in the clouds.
Your kids may find it a bit boring at first, but it can be a nice slow-paced game to get them into the camping mindset.
Once it’s dark, turn off your flashlights and start hunting for the constellations in the night sky.
If you’re not an expert stargazer, don’t hesitate to break the “no device” rule and use an app to help you identify the different constellations and planets.
Set yourself up in either your hammock or camping chair with a good book.
Your kids can enjoy some old favorites or a camping-themed book to get them in the mood!
Spend some time meditating in nature.
If you’re backyard camping as a whole family, this can be a great time to teach your kids how to meditate.
Drawing or painting
Bring a sketchbook or paint supplies outside.
Spend some time painting a scene from your yard.
A great camping activity is a backyard scavenger hunt.
If your kids don’t like to sit still (i.e., bird or cloud watching definitely won’t work well for them), then this is the way to go.
You can make this as easy or complicated as you wish.
You can write down the names of insects, flowers, and trees on paper bags for them to collect.
Or you can simply call out names for what they need to find in the yard.
Watching a movie
If you’re less worried about the authentic camping experience, consider adding a movie to the mix with a projector.
You can turn an old white bedsheet or canvas drop cloth into a big screen for an outdoor movie.
We recommend screening a “camp-themed” movie like The Parent Trap.
Of course, it’s not camping if you don’t tell campfire stories.
Once the sun sets, you can take turns telling ghost stories or silly tales.
It’s a fun way to get your kids thinking creatively.
There are many games you can play while camping, from lawn games to board games.
It’s all available since you have access to everything you own!
7. What are some great backyard camping meal ideas?
Some families choose to grill out when they backyard camp while others just eat snacks.
Whatever your style, you’ll need a few creative campfire recipes in addition to s’mores and hot dogs.
Here are some that you may want to try out.
Grilled jelly and cream cheese sandwiches
You’ll make this recipe using a campfire pie iron.
Start with two slices of buttered bread.
On the inside of one slice, use 2 tablespoons of whipped cream cheese.
On the other slice, use your favorite fruit jelly or jam.
Use the pie iron to cook them just like you would a regular grilled cheese (roughly a minute or so on each side).
This delicious option makes a great breakfast or dessert.
If you choose not to have a fire pit (for ease or safety), then you can also make them on your backyard grill.
To make cinnamon bears, use a loaf of French bread, butter, cinnamon, sugar, and a roasting stick.
Cut the bread into thick slices and dip the sides into butter.
Then, coat your bread in a cinnamon-sugar mixture.
Put your bread on the stick and roast it over the fire until the sugar caramelizes.
Cast-iron skillet pizza
A cast-iron skillet is a must-have tool for camping.
It can be used for multiple recipes including pizza.
Start by drizzling the skillet with olive oil and then transfer your pre-made pizza dough to the skillet.
Make sure you press the dough up over the edges.
Spread your sauce over the dough, then add cheese and any desired toppings.
You’ll love how the pizza crisps up on the outside but remains chewy on the inside of the deep dish.
Foil packet meals
Foil packet meals are the perfect meal solution when camping.
You can make a variety of options ahead of time and then place them in/on the fire to cook.
Most people like to make foil packets with a combination of meat and veggies.
Just toss in some seasoning and olive oil, and you’ve got something tasty to eat.
You can make them with whatever you have on hand — steak strips, trout, brussel sprouts, broccoli, you name it.
You really can’t beat this snack.
You can make campfire popcorn by tossing popcorn kernels and vegetable oils in a pie tin.
Cover them tightly with foil and dome the top to leave enough room for the kernels to pop.
Then, place the tin on the campfire.
Once all the kernels have popped, you can remove and add butter, salt, or any other desired toppings.
8. What are some crucial tips for a successful backyard camping experience?
Any experience with the whole family will have its ups and downs.
Here are some tips you can use to maximize success!
Pack as you would for “real” camping
Don’t do this halfway.
You may think that you can run back into the house for anything you forget (because you can), but this also cheapens the experience a little bit.
If you’re constantly running back into the house for this and that, soon enough someone may just decide to stay in the house.
Your goal should be to bring everything out and stay out there until morning (except for the occasional bathroom break!).
Setting ground rules and expectations
Your camping “rules” can be as strict or lenient as you wish.
However, it’s a good idea to come up with a plan beforehand, so your group knows exactly what this backyard camping trip will entail.
For example, are you asking them to leave all devices inside?
Are they allowed to use the refrigerator or dishwasher?
When can they head back into the house?
There are no right or wrong answers.
However, different groups have varying attention spans.
Being clear about expectations can make it more fun for everyone.
Think about logistics
There are a few household logistics that can make backyard camping more fun.
For example, make sure your sprinkler system is off.
The last thing you want is for all your stuff to be drenched because your lawn needed to be watered.
We also recommend turning off all exterior and interior lights.
This way, the light of day will progress naturally just as it would at a campsite.
Make “bug bombs”
Are you worried about getting eaten alive during backyard camping?
There’s an all-natural, non-toxic way to repel mosquitos using sage, mint, and lavender.
Here’s a link to make your own bug bombs.
What else do you have planned for the summer?
Backyard camping is just one activity to have available for you and your family.
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