Get Out: Camp in the Backyard

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Enjoy a camping experience with your family without leaving home! Life as MOM contributor, Janel, shares some tips for low-stress camping fun.

Dirty Camping

Photo Source: Janel

When I was growing up, my family did not camp. Oh sure, I went camping a few times with the Girl Scouts, but camping was not a family activity. It wasn’t until I was married and had my own kids that I had my first true family camping adventure. It was fun. And, boy oh boy, was it DIRTY! (Can you tell?)

It was also a lot of work.

No doubt about it, traditional camping takes a lot of preparation — from the food to the sleeping arrangements to all of the gear that you need to take with you. If you’ve got an infant, it can be even more challenging with the additional gear not to mention trying to keep a baby comfortable for sleeping times.

You can still enjoy the fun of camping AND cut down on some of the work, not to mention undesirable aspects, such as more primitive bathroom facilities. Just camp in your own backyard!

Camp in the Backyard

Today’s Challenge: Pitch a tent and camp in your own backyard.

When camping at home, keep it simple to maximize the fun. Just stick to the essentials — a tent, a good meal, and of course a yummy treat.

Let them pitch it.

Kids LOVE tents, so let them help put it together. Find a nice flat area in your backyard and let the little ones help sort the pieces and spread out the tent. Older kids can help with reading directions and the more complicated construction. My eight-year old daughter managed to follow most of the directions to erect our behemoth of a tent on her own. She only needed assistance when it was time to pull the tent up and stake it.

Make a good meal.

Make a meal that your family will enjoy, but keep it simple. Use your kitchen if it makes life easier…you are home after all. But, throwing something easy on the grill makes for an enjoyable meal with very little clean-up.

Have s’mores.

Before you snuggle up in your tent for the night, gather around the firepit to toast your marshmallows together. Don’t have a firepit? Try using your grill. No, it doesn’t have quite the same feeling as a firepit but it gets the job done too.

If you don’t have a grill either, you’re not out of luck. Remember, you’re at home! Use your kitchen to make some S’mores indoors and then enjoy them outside under the stars.

Helpful Resources:

  • Camping Recipes: If you’re going to go all-out and plan a full day or weekend of backyard camping, you might need a more extensive menu. Here’s a great list of camping recipes to help you with your planning.
  • Campfire Songs: Get the lyrics to some songs that your littles will love to sing around the firepit.
  • Camping Games and Activities: Check out this list of games, crafts, and stargazing and wildlife watching tips.

What would you do at your Backyard Campout?

outside-in-30Outside in 30

Want to find other ways to get outside with your peeps? Eager to enjoy the great outdoors more than you do? Wondering how to expose your kids to more of nature? Click here for the Outside in 30 list of ideas.

Janel is a stay-at-home mom of two daughters and a “law school wife” in Virginia. Raised in a budget-conscious and DIY-minded family, she blogs about motherhood, crafts, and living on a law school budget at Life with Lucie and Ella.

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  1. Participate in the Great American Backyard Campout on June 22!

    DD#2 had her BFF over 2 years ago for the campout and boy was it entertaining to listen over the baby monitor to two 4 yr olds telling “ghost” stories and such (later mama went out and spent the night with them). Last year the BFF hosted… so this year it’s our turn again.

    1. for camp experiences beyond the backyard, check American Camp Association’s dedicated parent resource website for articles by the experts, videos, planning calendar, checklists and best of all, a searchable database!