Sometimes we are all a little too busy to pack up the car, stock the coolers, drive to a campground, find a camping spot, and spend a day or two in the mountains. While we love camping in the mountains, we recently camped in our backyard and had a blast! Here are a few tips and suggestions to make your backyard camping trip a huge success.
1. Have Fun!
Our biggest suggestion is have fun! Whatever your family likes to do, plan that into your backyard campout. Enjoy being together as a family! Spend as much time in camp as you can. Make it a real family adventure where you explore the backyard, or read books together, or go on a scavenger hunt. Don’t keep running in the house to check the laundry or watch TV. If you were camping, you would not be able to do those things anyway, so have fun with your family and make it a true adventure.
2. Eat Camping Food
One of the things that we love best about camping is that we eat a little differently. We usually have hot dogs roasted over the fire or tin foil dinners when we’re camping, so we try to do this in the backyard, too. We love making tin foil dinners in the oven. They aren’t much different than in the fire. Make your tin foil dinner with whatever ingredients you like to throw inside (we use chicken, potatoes, carrots, and onions). Then pop them in the oven at 375 for about 30 minutes. Tin Foil Dinners are easy to check and see if they are done, and if not, you can pop them back in for a few minutes.
What camping trip is complete without s’mores? We don’t have a fire pit in our backyard, so we usually improvise on the s’mores. Lately we have been using S’mores Oreos. They are delicious and a great treat in place of s’mores. But if you really want s’mores, you can also make them in the oven. Put a few marshmallows on a cookie sheet, slide them into the 400 degree oven , and watch with the oven light on for them to get toasty brown. Pull the marshmallows out and build your s’more! Some people like to put the bottom graham cracker with chocolate and the marshmallow in oven, too. This helps the chocolate melt and heats the cracker. Try it out and see what works for you!
Finally, eat your food outside. That is what you would do if you were camping, right? We have a small plastic table that we set up and eat around in the backyard. You can use real plates or paper plates, whichever you feel like that night. But enjoy your meal in the great outdoors.
3. Play Games as a Family
When we go camping, we play lots of games, especially our boys. They will play stick baseball with pinecones for balls. We have a few games in our camping bins that only come out when we are camping, so we play these games a lot to get our fill. One of them is called Big Fish, Little Fish and when it comes out of the box, the boys get super-excited. But you don’t have to have a special camping game, you just need some games to play together. Dig one out of the closet and play a game in camp.
One of our favorite games to play while camping in the backyard is Glow in the Dark Hide-n-Seek. Spend a few dollars on glow sticks and give everyone a few to wear. Once twilight hits, play hide-n-seek just like you did as a kid, but you will have your glow sticks for light. We play this in our house sometimes, too, because our boys look forward to playing it. You can even give the seeker a flashlight if it starts to get dark. We try to finish before true darkness sets in because our kids are little, but if you have bigger kids, use the flashlight!
4. Camp Unplugged
When we camped in the backyard this weekend, we left all our electronics inside. It was so relaxing. No phones, no computers, just like in the woods. This forces you to play games with the kids, read a book, and just relax. We sat around and talked about memories from other camping trips.
We think the key to a successful backyard camping trip is to unplug. There are no outlets and usually no service in the mountains, so bring that idea to your home, and disconnect for just a few hours. It will be positive for everyone!
5. Enjoy the Luxuries of Home
While we just lectured you about not using your electronics, you can definitely still enjoy being close to home. You will have flushing toilets, which is very important. You will have running water so you can get a drink, and wash dirty hands, whenever you need to. You can easily do dishes instead of scrubbing them in the woods. You don’t have to pack, and repack the car to make everything fit. You can haul a few things out at a time whenever is convenient for you. And best of all, you can look forward to that hot shower the next morning in the privacy of your own bathroom.
Camping at home is a great family activity. We love the ease of camping at home, especially with our camping bins. We just pulled out the bins we needed for this trip and it was all ready to go!
We hope this has inspired you to go camping whether in your backyard, or in the mountains. Camping is a great family adventure that creates lifetime memories no matter the location.