The Backyard Campout - a great way to try camping for the first time.
How to Camp In Your Backyard
Camping in your backyard can be loads of fun, no matter how old you are. It's great for keeping the kids entertained, it offers opportunities to check the night sky, and it lets you and your guests be noisier than usual. Camping in your backyard also lets you have friends stay over who might not otherwise fit inside your home. All you need are tents, sleeping bags, warm clothes, snacks, a campfire, and a few fun activities.
Setting Up the Space
Set up your tent(s).Depending on the number of family members and guests, you may need more than one. Ask your friends to bring their tents if needed. If you are new to camping, follow the instructions to assemble a tent.
- Use a good quality tent; this isn't the time for the beach shade. It must be a tent you'd really camp in, to protect you from the rain, bugs, and wind.
Prepare your bedding.Put something soft on the floor to lie on: camping cots, a blow-up air mattress, yoga mats, a thick comforter, or even couch cushions work well. Add pillows and lightweight sleeping bags or cotton blankets for summer warmth, especially if you live where the night temperatures dip considerably.
Fill the tent(s).Add soft toys or stuffed animals for the kids. Put a few flashlights, lanterns, or glow sticks in each tent as well. You can also set out decks of cards or board games in case it gets chilly.
Arrange a seating area.If you have a picnic table or a patio set, that would work best. Otherwise, set up a few lawn chairs and a small table to set out drinks and food. A low-maintenance option is to lay out a blanket in the sun, so that your friends can relax, eat, and chat. Be sure the grass isn't wet!
- Before laying out the seating area, do a sweep for doggy do-do, ant hills, prickles, or other irritants and nasties that might spoil the experience.
Bring out the bug spray.Mosquito bites will surely put a damper on the fun, so be sure to get plenty of bug repellant for you and your guests.You could also use a bug zapper or light citronella candles or tiki torches filled with citronella to keep pesky bugs away.
- Ensure your children know not to touch or play with bug zappers, citronella candles, or tiki torches. Even bug spray can be dangerous if ingested or sprayed in the eyes. Make sure an adult supervises or applies the products for children.
Set out food and drinks.You could prepare something ahead of time, or even order out. Pizza is a good option, if you are with a large group of people. Have a few bags of chips, or other snack items set out, as well as a cooler full of ice with a variety of drinks. For hot summer afternoons consider making homemade treats, including:
Adding Fun Activities
Light a bonfire.A warm fire is a camping classic. Just be sure you have municipal permission (if you are a child, you must have adult supervision) and keep a close eye on your bonfire. Remember to follow all fire safety precautions, keep a hose or fire extinguisher handy, and never leave the bonfire unattended.
- If your space doesn’t allow for a bonfire, consider using a terracotta pot as a fire pit. Line your pot with aluminum foil, fill it with charcoal, and light it up.This will allow you to roast s’mores or other items, giving you that true camping feel. Just remember to keep a hose or fire extinguisher handy, and never leave your fire pit unattended.
- Make sure children are supervised by adults when near any open flame. Consider drawing a circle around your bonfire or firepit, and teach children not to cross the line.
Use your fire for food and fun.Besides keeping warm, you can also roast marshmallows or hot dogs on your campfire. It is also a great place to just cozy up and stare at the flames.
- You could ask children to point out shapes in the flames or coals and see where their imaginations take them (similar to finding shapes in clouds).
- The campfire is also a great location for group activities such as telling stories or singing songs.
Turn your lawn into a Twister board.Cut a circle out of a pizza box and use it as a template to spray different colored circles on your lawn.You’ll need four to six different colors to make rows of four to six circles each, each row having its own color.
- Use a spinner from the game itself, or make your own with paper and markers. Someone could even call out the colors and body parts at random (e.g., right foot blue, left hand yellow, etc.).
- Use contractor’s marking spray paint if you want to easily wash away the paint after your camp out.
Hold a nature scavenger hunt.Make a list of items likely to be found in the yard and hand out copies to everyone who wants to play. This game works well individually and in teams. You can see who can find the most items, or who can find items the fastest. Consider handing out a small prize to the winner(s), such as glow sticks or candy.
- A few ideas for your list include: a four-leaf clover, a ladybug, something yellow, two identical leaves, a feather, a round rock, etc.
Turn on some music.Bring a stereo or boombox outside, or even plug your phone into a compatible projection speaker. Music will liven up your camp-out in no time. Take turns being the DJ so everyone gets to hear their favorite tunes. You can even start a dance party!
- If you have close neighbors, try to quiet down as the evening progresses. Your neighbors may have small children who are trying to sleep. Don't make deafening noises or play loud, booming music all night, especially after 9-10:00 pm.
Go geocaching.Geocaching is a real-world, outdoor treasure hunt in which you travel to a specific spot and find containers full of “treasure” left by others. As a general rule, if you take something from a cache, you should leave something of similar value in its place.You’ll need a handheld GPS or smartphone for this activity. You can download the geocaching app or visit to find a source for your caches.
Screen a movie.If you have a video projector you can hang a sheet in the yard (as the screen) and watch a movie outside. In keeping with your theme, you could even watch a movie about camping.The Parent TraporCamp Rockare great choices if you are camping with kids, whileWithout A PaddleandBushwhackedare better for older audiences.
Stargaze.Stargazing is a great wind-down activity. Spread out blankets on the grass and lay down to look at the stars. You could even see who can point out the most constellations, or teach little ones how to find prominent constellations, like Orion. Apps such as “Sky Map” show you the name of each star and constellation by using your location in real time.
Make memories.Have a camera nearby to take silly snapshots of you, your kids, your family members, and your friends. Take one large group shot with everyone smiling and laughing. Be sure to make copies for everyone!
- You could even hang a picture frame from a tree branch to create your very own photo booth.
QuestionCan I do this for a sleepover?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerSure! Just make sure your guests have all the proper supplies like flashlights, sleeping bags, and tents.Thanks!
QuestionWhat if a deadly bug bites me and my parents are not in the house? How can I recover? And what if I am alone when I get bitten?Community AnswerThat's unlikely to happen, especially if you don't live in the tropics, but in that case, you should call your country's emergency number and follow their instructions.Thanks!
QuestionCan I go camping on a trampoline?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerYes, you can go camping wherever you would like in your backyard. It actually may even be more comfortable for you to sleep on the trampoline.Thanks!
QuestionHow do I make the fire? And what is a bonfire?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerYou start with kindling and logs. Use a match to light the kindling, then gently blow and add twigs and eventually logs. A bonfire is a large open fire typically used in celebrations of various kinds.Thanks!
QuestionHow do I prank someone on a backyard camping sleepover?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerYou can do the classic whipped cream in the persons hand and then tickle their ear or make up your own. Remember, if you are close to this person, they might get angry or hurt because you prank them. Make sure he is the type of person that has a good sense of humor.Thanks!
QuestionWhat about camping with pets?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerYou can, but if you are in a tent make sure that they go to the bathroom before you go to bed. It is actually quite fun. They are the perfect snuggle buddies and will keep you warm when it's chilly outside.Thanks!
QuestionWhat if I am scared of raccoons?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerYou can bring something to defend yourself with, or bring someone with you that is not afraid of them.Thanks!
QuestionHow can I camp if I have no backyard?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerYou can find a campsite or use a friend's backyard.Thanks!
QuestionWhat if I don't have a tent?Community AnswerYou use a hammock, just sleep against a tree or make a shelter out of anything else you have around.Thanks!
QuestionWhat if I don't have food?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerWell since you are in your backyard, you could just order food to be delivered or you could walk into your house and grab something out of the kitchen.Thanks!
How can I buy lots of snacks on a budget? I need some ideas for making snacks too.
I need to know what is good to bring on an overnight camping because me and my brother are planning to camp in our yard
- If you really want to go all out, send out invitations beforehand. Include a list of necessary items, like extra tents, sleeping bags, warm pajamas, and snack items. Your guests will also need to know where the party will be located, what time it begins, and what time they should be home the next morning. You can find inexpensive invites at any store.
- Turn your sprinklers off, if they are set to turn on in the night or wee hours of the morning.
- If you participate in the "Great American Backyard Camp Out", you can even raise money for charity! Check a search engine for details.
- Invite as many people as you wish! You can camp alone, or with lots of friends. Camping is all about enjoying yourself outdoors. If a few extra friends show up, just cram them into a tent or set up an extra one; you can always ask a friend to bring another tent, or even ask the neighbors for a tent.
- If there are children who are camping in your backyard, take in mind that they get frigid and cold faster than adults, so make sure that they're kept adequately warm during the night. They should wear layered clothing while they sleep and the tent should be capable of lower temperatures.
- Look at the weather forecast the day before you plan to camp out. In colder countries like England or some parts of Canada weather can change very quickly, leaving you in a freezing, wet tent!
Things You'll Need
Blankets, lightweight sleeping bags
Warm, layered clothing
Food and drinks
Wood for a bonfire
Friends and family
Flashlights or lanterns
Music (and a portable music player)
Sources and Citations
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