backyard-campingFamily camping is a lot of fun, but it can also be stressful too. One way to keep things under control is to set up a backyard camping night that you and the kids can enjoy. In order to make the most of the time, it’s important to consider factors like the setup of the camp, the food that everyone will enjoy, and even putting together some games and activities that the whole family can participate in.

Setting Up the Campsite

To make the event as much fun as possible, choose a portion of the backyard that will serve as the campsite. Use the same basic approach that you would use for setting up at a campground. In other words, you would choose to place the tent under a shaded area so it would have a little extra protection from the rain. That shade would also help to keep the temperature inside the tent more pleasant during the heat of the day.

You can even set up a fire pit that will be used for cooking. If you don’t want to dig a hole or ruin the grass, you can always have the kids collect some rocks to make a foundation for a Hibachi grill or some similar device. The kids will enjoy helping to get ready to roast wieners or cook other foods on an open fire. We generally have our first “camp-out” after a little spring cleaning in the garage. This year, my husband (the researcher that he is), poured over countless pressure washer reviews on Consumer Reports and other sites and bought himself a new Generac. We most likely had the cleanest back patio in the state after his day of experimenting with it.

Since you probably don’t have a creek or lake to use for swimming, there is always the option of setting up a wading pool as part of the campsite. Place some comfortable lounges or chairs on the site as well. That will allow the kids to splash away to their heart’s content, then dry out in the sun.

Packing the Food

The backyard camping expedition should not make it necessary to keep running in and out of the house. This means packing food and drink for the evening. Prepare an ice chest and make sure it has plenty of ice to keep the sodas and bottles of water cold. For the food, make trail mix, take along some popcorn, and simple things that you can use to make sandwiches. Don’t forget the hot dogs and the buns for the main meal. Round out the list with some potato chips and maybe something sweet.


boccePart of camping is getting away from it all. Since you and your kids are so used to electronic devices, decide to do without them for the evening. That means no cell phones and no electronic games. To keep everyone occupied, haul out some board games and keep a few decks of cards on hand. If anyone in the home happens to be musical, a guitar or similar instrument should also be part of the backyard camping scene. Even if no one in the family is that great of a singer, you can have a lot of fun learning some traditional songs and spending time together. We’re particularly fond of bocce ball. The rules are pretty simple and it’s a ton of fun.

Sitting Around the Campfire

While we already have a nice little fire pit, it’s not necessary. You can create a campfire by using two or three flashlights that you stand upright in the stones collected earlier. For more of a fire effect, gather some branches and place them around the flashlights. You won’t have to worry about anyone getting burned or having to have a good fire extinguisher around.

Lights Out

At bedtime, everyone gets to make one run into the house for bathroom time and brushing their teeth. After that, it’s back to the tent site and into the sleeping bags. Expect the kids to spend a little time talking and laughing before they finally settle down to sleep. Make sure to turn out the flashlights before you call it a night.