Backyard camping can be a great way to introduce your kids to camping or to simply enjoy the great outdoors and change things up a little bit when you don’t have the time for a camping trip. Camping out in the backyard can be every bit as fun as camping out in the wilderness, as long as you do it correctly.
Follow these tips to make your backyard camping experience as fun as possible:
How to make backyard camping fun – 10 tips
1. Break out the tents
It isn’t camping if there’s no tent involved, but when you’re out in the backyard it can be tempting to skip the tent. After all, if it gets too cold or starts to rain, your bedrooms are just a few feet away, right?
But setting up the tent and actually using it is such an integral part of the camping experience that, without them, it just feels like spending the night in the yard, not backyard camping. Besides, if you want to help your kids get used to what camping is like, you really need to have them experience a tent.
If you don’t already have a tent, you might as well buy one that you can use when you go camping for real, like this one. Be sure to get a large enough tent for everyone, and don’t forget to put the rain fly on when you set it up!
You can also check out this article we did for some more ideas for camping tents.
2. Make a campfire
Kind of like the tent, camping just isn’t camping without a fire. The fire is where you gather to tell scary stories or sing campfire songs, and it’s where you roast hot dogs and marshmallows. It’s absolutely essential.
If you (understandably) don’t want to build a fire pit for your backyard camping experience, you can easily just buy one and have it set up super fast! In addition to being great for backyard camping, a fire pit is just great to have for any occasion.
3. Roast marshmallows, make s’mores
Roasting marshmallows is THE classic campfire activity, and if you’re roasting marshmallows you’d better be making s’mores, too.
4. Play flashlight games
Flashlight tag is just one of many games you can play as a family with your flashlights. Making shadow puppets in the tent is also a great way to keep everyone entertained. Heavy-duty flashlights work a little better for this because they’re actually easier to hold steady if you hold them properly.
5. Get a quality sleeping pad
Contrary to popular belief, camping does not mean sleeping on the cold, hard ground. Inflatable sleeping pads are a real game-changer, and they can really make your camping experience, in the backyard and elsewhere, much better.
A good sleeping pad not only provides you with a relatively soft place to lie down but the air it’s filled with also provides some extra insulation between you and the cold dirt. Get one for yourself. Get one for everyone who will be in the tent with you. It’s well worth the money.
6. Have a nice and warm sleeping bag
Not every sleeping bag is actually suitable for camping, especially in cold weather. Backyard camping won’t be fun if you can’t sleep well, so make sure you’re a bag that’s made for it, like this one. These bags aren’t just warmer, they also tend to be more durable because they’re made to stand up to harsher conditions.
In other words, a good sleeping bag lasts longer and keeps you more comfortable while you sleep, which is essential to a fun camping experience.
7. Play bean bag toss
Bean bag toss is a great camping game for the whole family, and it’s easy to set up. If you already have a ladder, great! If you don’t, you might as well buy one now. Every home needs a good ladder.
For the bean bag toss, hang paper signs from each rung on the ladder denoting how many points you get for getting the bag between each set of rungs. The highest set gives the most points, the lowest set gives the fewest.
8. More campfire food!
To really go all out and make your backyard camping trip feel special, stay out of the kitchen and cook all of your food in or over the fire. The easiest way to do this is to make little packets of aluminum foil, put your veggies, meats, and seasonings inside and seal them up tight before sticking them in the coals.
The result is perfectly cooked juicy food, but if you want it to have that smoky, “cooked over an open fire” taste, you’re going to have to actually cook it over an open fire. You can stick hot dogs on the same skewers you use for the marshmallows and cook them that way, or just put a grill grate over the fire pit.
9. Don’t forget a lantern
If you were camping out in the countryside, you wouldn’t have electricity. Your only lights at night would be the fire, your flashlight, and a lantern. Lanterns are essential because they provide much more light than a flashlight, and can be used in areas that the fire doesn’t illuminate. Here’s a great option for a lantern you can get on Amazon.
Sure, if you’re just in your backyard you don’t technically need a lantern. But using a lantern, especially inside the tent, helps to create the feel of a real camping trip. It definitely makes it feel special, and you’ll be glad you used it.
10. Screen a movie
Most of our tips so far have been about making your backyard camping trip feel like any other camping trip. But, after all, you are in you’re own back yard, and if you want to take advantage of that, you should.
It’s easy enough to set up a movie screen in your backyard using a bedsheet or a tarp. All you’ll need now is a projector like this one and you have the makings of a great backyard movie night to kick off or wrap up your evening.
Backyard camping can be every bit as fun as any other camping trip. With these tips, you can have a great time and maybe even get your kids excited about camping farther from home.