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8 Backyard Camping Ideas To Try

A family enjoying backyard camping

Backyard camping offers all of the best parts of getting outdoors with a lot less risk and expense. Instead of paying for a campsite or having to haul all your supplies halfway across your state, why not just set the tents up in your backyard? You can always take hikes and enjoy other nature activities away from home during the day and return to your private home campsite in the evening. Try at least a few of these tips to elevate your next backyard campout.

Build a Firepit

People roasting marshmellows over a fire

As long as there’s enough space to build a fire without risk to nearby buildings or overhanging trees, it’s the best way to add authenticity to a campout. A fire ring or raised firepit works well to prevent damage to concrete or brick surfaces. If you have a spot of grass or bare soil available, try building a brick fire ring for a DIY experience the entire family can share.

Set up the Yard Games

Corn hole game

Yard games like bocce, corn hole, horseshoes, and more are essential to the backyard camping experience. Bringing these kinds of sets along to a campsite can result in disappointment when there’s no space available or part of the equipment is lost along the way. By keeping everything in the backyard, you can finally settle who’s the best at Giant Jenga once and for all.

Try a Few More Tents than Necessary

A mom and her son in a blanket fort outside

Creating plenty of enclosed space that’s free from bugs and covered from the elements is the key to making it feel like a real camping trip. If you expect everyone to hang out in the sun or squeeze into a single tent together, they’re likely to run back to the comforts of home. Try one tent for sleeping, another for playtime or games, and a third for just private time if someone wants to nap or get away and read a book. This is a good idea when camping far from home too.

Use a Screen Tent for Stargazing

A man and a woman laying in a tent

Screen tents, or even just dome tents with their rain flies set aside, work great for appreciating the stars without getting bit by the bugs. Many four-sided screen tents have solid tops, so look for a dome shape that has mesh over the top for a clear view.

Grab a Projector

People outside watching a movie on a projector

You don't need to be curled up on your couch indoors to have a movie night. Bring the movie experience outdoors by grabbing a white sheet and a projector. Plus, while watching a movie is the classic choice for outdoor projection, many projectors may also work well for playing video games. You can even project colorful backgrounds for fun shadow puppet shows.

Learn about the Plants

A family looking at plants

While there are many ways to have scavenger hunts in a backyard, just taking the time to identify some of the plants you see can be the most rewarding activity of all. You may discover a wildflower that is the only habitat in the area for a rare type of insect or even find an edible plant. Everything from the trees to the moss around your backyard can be identified with tools like guide books, ID apps, social media identification groups, and more.

Get Creative with Campfire Cooking

People enjoying a small fire

Camping near home offers the ideal opportunity for going all out with campfire cooking. Whether you prefer to cook over an open flame or a grill instead, it’s easy to keep ingredients in the refrigerator or freezer until it’s time to cook. Try dough on a stick, chocolate or jelly-filled hand pies, and Dutch oven dishes to make everyone happy at mealtime.

Backyard camping is great for getting out and enjoying beautiful weather without worrying about crowds, long drives, or making reservations. It’ll also motivate you to landscape and improve your yard in between camping weekends.