15 Ways to Up Your Backyard Camping Game

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Now is the perfect time to bust out the family tent for some backyard camping. The kids will be thrilled with the change in scenery and you won’t have to pack the car to the gills full of sleeping bags and snacks. Scroll through to find some tips to make your backyard camping adventure one to remember!

1. Pop up your tent.

Whether you need to dig it out of your storage shed or you decide to rent one for the weekend, the tent is the cornerstone of an at-home campout. If you don't have your own and the weather is warm enough, you can easily make one out of a few tarps, string and tent pegs. Check out our favorite family tents and other camping gear here

2. Plan a scavenger hunt.

No need to travel far with this fun printable. The backyard scavenger hunt takes kids on an adventure finding nature's jewels within the comfort of your own yard. Head to Hey, Let's Make Stuff to download for free!

3. Stir up a batch of trail mix.

You don't have to officially hit the trails to enjoy this camping favorite. Choose your favorite nuts, seeds, Goldfish and mini M&M's make it your own. Try the recipe here for some inspiration. 

4. Make yourself a mocktail.

There's nothing that lends a festive ambiance to a backyard event like a mocktail. Try one of these recipes that use berries in place of ice cubes! 

photo: iStock

5. Bust out the books.

A backyard campout is a perfect time to read some favorite books or discover new favorites. Ghost stories are another fun way to get everyone in the mood (as long as you make them more spooky than scary). 

6. Get your game on.

There's nothing that brings families together like playing a game. Try one of these minute to win it games to see who has the real skills or go back in time to the olden days with these classic yard games. Need some more inspiration? Try a game like Ninja attack and team up against the kids.

7. Get the fire going.

Whether you have an outdoor firepit or you bring in the Weber, a fire is great fun for a backyard campout. Pick a meal you can cook over a campfire to show the kids what roughing it is really like. 

photo: iStock

8. Elevate your hot dog game.

If hot dogs are on the menu, you don't have to stick with the old ketchup and bun business. Make your dogs upscale by marinating them, turning them into mini corndogs or topping them with pickled onions and chili. 

9. Make some s'mores.

There's nothing that screams camping like some ooey-gooey s'mores! Go the traditional route and roast them over the fire or try one of these more unique recipes. Everyone will be screaming for more, that's for sure. 

10. Go stargazing.

When the city lights are dim and the stars are out, spread out your blanket and get the kids to scope out the stars. The SkyView app is a super-easy way to teach kids about the stars and the planets that we can see with the naked eye. If you have a telescope, get it set up for an even more impressive show! Here's how to set up a star-gazing session with kids

11. Play a game of shadow puppets.

All you need is your hands and a flashlight or headlamp to play this fun guessing game. Try out these bird shadow puppets to get things going. 

photo: iStock

12. Bedtime stories are for everyone.

Get the little ones to drift off to sleep with one of these bedtime stories. They'll be dreaming of cows jumping over the moon in no time. 

13. Rise and shine, it's hot cocoa time!

It's no doubt that hot cocoa is the major reason people go camping. Whether you like the packets with the mini marshmallows or one of these fancied-up varieties, you gotta have the hot chocolate to start your morning off right. 

14. Mornings are better with pancakes.

If your night in the backyard was less than relaxing, you need a nice plate of pancakes to make it all better. Plug in the electric griddle in the yard and try on of these pancake recipes that will make you wish you hadn't forgotten to buy the whipped cream. 

photo: Cakies

15. No yard? No problem!

A fort is a perfect substitute for a backyard campout. Get yourself some Amazon boxes, an old sheet or an A-frame kit and you'll be in business. We've got loads of fantastic fort ideas here. Set it up in your living room and watch a Nat Geo show about the National Parks, and you'll feel like you are there. 

—Kate Loweth


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