Summer is drawing to a close, and we finally had our backyard camping adventure last weekend! We’ve been wanting to take our little guy camping ever since March when we set up our tent inside for him to play in. But it kept getting pushed back and pushed back, as things do.
Finally, there was no more time to delay. But at this point, I’m 8 months pregnant. On top of trying to make sure everything is ready for baby, I didn’t quite feel I had the capacity to plan a camping trip. So we settled on backyard camping!
The great thing is that you don’t have to leave your home to have a fun camping experience! I have several fond memories of backyard camping as a kid (and even when I was a teenager). And right now I’m definitely a fan of not having to pack up a ton of food in the cooler or walk to a bathroom when I have to pee, which is approximately every 30 minutes.
There are plenty of fun activities that you can add to make backyard camping extra memorable. It’s not necessary to do every single one of them each time. Just choose a few to focus on and you’ll have a night your kids will always remember!
Here are 9 of our ideas for an epic backyard camping adventure!
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1. Set up a cozy camp.
You can really go all out on this one when backyard camping since you’re not limited to what you can pack in the car! For me, that meant adding all the extras like pillows, foam, and cushions. Anything to make sleeping on the ground as comfortable as possible! I definitely wouldn’t have been able to fit that many pillows in our car and still see out the rearview mirror.
Some other cozy touches can include plenty of chairs (with pillows and blankets) around the fire, lanterns, candles, string lights, rugs, etc. For some more ideas that you can use at a campsite or while backyard camping, check out this article!
2. Cook dinner over a fire.
To make backyard camping feel like an authentic experience, have your meal outside around the fire! Luckily, this one is easier to achieve when backyard camping than at an off location campsite. Did I mention how much I HATE packing/living out of a cooler? Maybe I just need to learn some good hacks for cooler organization.
Regardless, cooking (or at the very least) consuming your food in the outdoors is great fun. Everyone who’s tried it knows that food tastes better outside (it’s a scientific fact 😀 ). We love the classic roasted hot dog route, but this time around we decided to have some shish kebabs around the fire.
This is a nice option because you can provide different meat and veggie options and each person can assemble their own kebab skewers based on what they like. Here’s the recipe I used, although there are tons out there. Foil packs also make for an easy, delicious dinner option. Here are some yummy ideas to choose from!
3. Make epic s’mores.
After dinner, make sure to follow up with s’mores! (Did I even need to say that?) We like to go all out when it comes to s’more making. If you want to see what we’ve done in the past, check out our summer campfire post!
4. Tell stories around the fire.
I can’t advocate for the art of storytelling enough! This one is especially good for larger groups, so invite some friends and family over! Everyone has life experiences that are fun to share, and it’s a great way to learn more about each other and pass on family stories across generations.
5. Play games in the dark.
I remember having such a fun time as a kid getting to stay out after dark and play games! It’s a different world at night, and to a kid it can feel completely magical to have this experience! Since we would already be outside late into the night, this is the perfect thing to add to a backyard camping adventure!
And with this activity, the more, the merrier. We invited some family members over to play hide and seek in the dark and had a blast. I also attempted to explain flashlight tag to our four-year-old, which he interpreted into his own unique version of the game 🤣.
This is another perfect activity to incorporate into your backyard camping adventure! Relax in your chairs around the fire, lean back, and gaze up at the sky. You might even see a shooting star! Do a little bit of research beforehand and see if you can identify some of the major constellations.
And I don’t totally condemn (lol) the use of technology because there are some cool apps you can get on your phone to help you identify some of the constellations and planets. A few free stargazing apps to try are SkyView Lite, and Star Chart, Sky Safari. Just point your phone at the sky and they can tell you what you’re looking at!
And if you have a grandpa with a legit telescope and some astronomy knowledge, by all means, invite him over. Our little guy happens to have access to just such a grandpa, so we were actually able to have a close-up look at the moon’s surface and see some of its craters and mountains. We even saw a tiny little Saturn with rings around it!
7. Search for after dark critters.
What animals come out after dark in your yard? It’s a whole new world in your yard at night, and it can be super interesting to observe nocturnal animal activity! We live in a neighborhood that’s pretty well surrounded by busy roads, highways, train tracks, etc., so we probably don’t have as much animal activity as some.
But one cool thing we’ve witnessed is bats swooping through our yard after dark in search of insects! It’s super fun to watch these little guys in action and know that they’re working hard to eat up all those mosquitoes.
If you choose to focus on animal life for your backyard camping experience, you could even add in some activities like animal themed books or hanging up a bat house! (Feel free to customize this to whatever animals frequent your backyard that interest you.)
8. Read bedtime stories by flashlight.
Since we read stories at bedtime anyway, this was an essential part of backyard camping for us! We got all snuggled into our sleeping bags, turned on the twinkly lights and lanterns at the top of our tent, then read stories by flashlight.
If you really want to set the camping vibe, bring along some camp themed books. But, of course, any books will do 🙂.
9. Don’t forget breakfast!
Everyone loves food, so why not make it extra special to enhance the experience? While we didn’t actually cook breakfast over the fire (let’s be honest…that can take FOREVER), I did choose yummy food that we don’t typically have.
While my husband and our little dude built up the fire, I got breakfast ready inside then brought it out for us to eat.
What a delicious way to wrap up our backyard camping “trip”! Our little guy had a blast, and so did we! All without leaving our home.
It’s so fun as a parent to realize in the moment that you’re creating memories your kids will probably recall (hopefully with fondness) throughout their lifetime!
If you like this article, check out our 5 ideas for the best campfire ever!
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