There’s nothing quite like a night under the stars, but a busy schedule can make planning a camping holiday at one of the best campsites impossible. Many families craving the great outdoors scratch the itch by setting up campsites right in their own backyard — and they’re having a great time.
Planning a backyard camping trip might seem like a big undertaking, but this guide will help. Read on to learn about the top backyard activities, camping gear, and essential information to do one of the funn things to do in your own backyard.
Benefits of backyard camping
Most people like to rough it up for a few days every year, but there are serious benefits to vacationing in the backyard. Anyone who likes to get some fresh air but would rather park their buttocks in their own (indoor) toilet can look forward to it.
Families with young children can also benefit from setting up a campground with a fallback plan. If baby doesn’t feel comfortable in the tent overnight, there’s no reason to lose sleep: just go inside and try again another night.
That’s not to say emergencies can’t happen, but they’re much easier to handle in a backyard than at a campground in the middle of the woods. This can help children and adults who become anxious from the cord cutting experience some of the excitement without the drama.
Essential gear for backyard camping
The barrier to entry for backyard camping is fairly low, but there are a few camping items that make the experience a bit more enjoyable:
Don’t forget to bring plenty of snacks, sweatshirts, and pillows to make it a really comfortable getaway. A fire pit and a pile of firewood are always good backyard camping ideas too.
construction of the tent
Setting up the tent should be a family affair, so get everyone involved. Find a flat, dry spot in the yard and have the younger children spread out a tarp to protect the tent from moisture and dew. Older children can assemble tent poles (beware of the inevitable sword fight) and help parents thread the poles through the tent’s tunnels, loops and grommets.
If there are multiple tents, consider placing them with the doors facing each other. This configuration gives the backyard campground a bit of a community feel, allowing everyone to lounge in front of their tents without interrupting the laughter.
Scare off animals and insects
It’s true that animals and insects are a part of camping, whether it’s in a backyard, state park, or private campground. But there are ways to prepare and deter them. A lit fire will help, but leaving it burning all night is not a good idea.
First, make sure you have enough bug spray on hand to prevent mosquitoes from snacking on campers. It is also worth setting up an insect killer a few meters outside the campsite.
It’s harder to keep curious animals away, but it helps to tidy up after snack time and put food and trash inside. Also, leaving the backyard lights or fairy lights on all night can be helpful to keep critters at bay.
Keeping warm, toasting snacks, or keeping bugs and animals from ruining a good time are all things that are important when camping in the backyard, but fires need to be taken seriously. Here are a few tips:
- Check with local jurisdictions. Some cities or counties do not allow backyard fires. Also, it may be illegal to burn anything during the dry season, when wildfires are common.
- Only light fires in fire pits. Fires on grass can be difficult to contain and are unsafe.
- Be sure to remove all bushes, dead leaves and grass clippings from the burn pit area before lighting a fire.
- Have two buckets of water ready, one on each side of the fire pit. Always have a bucket of water nearby in case of an emergency, and it often takes two buckets to fully extinguish a fire before bedtime.
Most importantly, use common sense when children are around campfires. Children should remain seated while roasting marshmallows, and running or fooling around near the fire should not be tolerated. Make sure the rules are clear before lighting the first match.
Creature comfort for backyard camping
One of the best parts of backyard camping is that there’s no reason to miss out on the comforts of home (unless that’s the point). Running an extension cord from the house allows backyard campers to set up a projector and watch a movie or set up lights. A few pillows from the couch, a few comfy blankets, and an air mattress can transform a backyard camping tent into a fully-equipped lounge.
Don’t be afraid to bring the garden furniture to the campsite either. Placing these chairs around the fire or projection screen allows people to recline without worrying about bugs or dew. The table can even serve as a handy snack station, turning the event into a backyard buffet.
But above all, don’t pretend that the interior installation doesn’t exist. Let kids and other campers run in to relieve themselves or freshen up before bed, especially if the goal is to enjoy backyard camp again in the future.
Outdoor activities for all ages
There are many backyard camping activities – something for all ages, in fact. Here are some camping activities for kids and adults that fit into the itinerary:
- Classic board games and card games
- Backyard scavenger hunts or nature walks
- Roast hot dogs and marshmallows over the fire
- make s’mores
- Ghost stories (but seriously, don’t scare the little ones)
- Observe stars and identify constellations
- Horseshoe, bocce ball, bean bag toss, and ladder ball tournaments (these games also make great gifts)
- Movies under the stars with a portable projector
These are just a few of the things to do while camping in the backyard. As long as everyone is together and relaxed (which isn’t always possible with little ones at a proper campground), everyone can find some backyard fun to put a smile on their face.