Family Friendly Camping Ideas in the Backyard

By September 19, 2022Food for thought, Outdoor

Everybody loves the idea of going on a camping trip to escape the bustle of everyday life. However, the amount of work to put that trip together can make the whole concept of an escape moot–especially if you are trying to organize a trip for a family with small children.

But that doesn’t mean you have to remove camping from the family to-do list. There are plenty of ways to create a camping excursion on your very own property. Keep reading to discover some family friendly camping ideas in the backyard!

Design Your Backyard to Promote an Outdoorsy Atmosphere

Although you may not necessarily want your backyard looking like an outdoor wilderness year-round, there are definitely some steps you can take to make a forest-like ambience for a backyard camping adventure.

Add Twinkle Lights to Enhance the Atmosphere

This is a super simple step that can have a truly transformative effect for your backyard. Simply weave some twinkle lights (white or yellow Christmas lights) around trees, deck railing, and fences. Not only does this provide a little bit of light for late-night camping shenanigans, but it creates a firefly-like effect that radiates the feeling of a forest at nighttime.

Don’t Forget the Fire Pit

It is not a camping trip without sitting around a fire telling stories. The good news is that there are many ways to add a fire pit to your backyard. The most authentic way to capture the camping experience would be to install a stone fire pit. The good news is that even when you aren’t backyard camping, this can add aesthetic value to your backyard and create a cozy escape from time to time. There are also portable fire pits that are good ideas for short-term use, and for fire-restricted areas or fire-prohibited HOAs, there are some stunning propane and electric fire pits as well.

Get Creative With Landscaping Options

Although a backyard camping weekend may not compel you to turn your backyard into a bramble thicket, it can be the motivation you have been needing to move ahead with a landscaping project you have been postponing. Perhaps it is time to finally plant a tree or add some river pebbles to a rundown section of your yard to create a natural stone ambience.

Eat Like You’re Actually Away from Home

Arguably the best part of camping is to have a guilt-free excuse to eat like a caveperson. While there is no shortage of creative camping meals to try in your backyard, here are a few of the essentials.

Always Remember Dessert Comes First When Camping

S’mores, s’mores, and more s’mores. Even people who don’t know the first thing about camping know that graham crackers, marshmallows, and Hershey’s bars are the first three items on the camping list. Although it is hard to go wrong with any method of preparing this campfire dessert staple, here is a super simple way to prepare them for backyard camping:

  • Break a single graham cracker in half to create two equal squares
  • Place two rectangles of milk chocolate on one of your graham cracker squares
  • Roast a marshmallow over the campfire with a sharp rod, until the entire outside of the marshmallow is light brown. This makes the inside gooey
  • Place the roasted marshmallow on top of the chocolate, apply the other graham cracker on top, squeeze the sandwich together, and enjoy! 

Hot Diggity Dog

After s’mores, hot dogs are a close second on the hierarchy of camping culinary must-haves. Hot dogs are a great camping choice not only because they were made to be cooked over a fire, but they are very hard to botch, no matter how limited your cooking skills. You can simply skewer the hot dog on the same rod used to roast marshmallows for s’mores, char the meat over the fire to your personal preference, pinch it in a bun–and there you go! It should probably be mentioned that the lack of dirty dishes doesn’t hurt hot dogs’ reputation as a camping staple.

It’s Not Camping Without the Cast Iron

Everybody has that 18-inch cast iron skillet taking up an entire shelf in their kitchen that they never find a reason to use. Well, look no further because you’re going camping, and it’s time to break that baby out!

The cast iron skillet is perfect for many types of camping meals, but you can’t go wrong at breakfast time. Just be sure to have lots of butter for this simple breakfast sandwich:

  • Cook some sausage patties, bacon, or your favorite breakfast sandwich meat until well done, draining any excess grease
  • Add some butter and fry an egg until the yoke is firm. It is best to flip the egg once
  • Thoroughly butter the skillet and add an English muffin, bagel, sweet roll, or your favorite sandwich bread. Toast it face down in the skillet until most of the butter has evaporated
  • Flip the bread, add the meat, egg, and a slice of cheese, covering with the other slice of bread and pressing firmly. You can cover the skillet and let the entire sandwich soften and cheese melt for a couple of more minutes, or if you think the sandwich is already sufficiently gooey, remove it and enjoy!

Have Fun You Will Never Forget

While this will take a little work, and you have to have a projector, this can help you create a truly memorable backyard camping experience. Here’s how to do it:

In addition to the scenery and the food, people like to go camping because, well, it’s fun. If you are struggling to think of ways to create a diversion from the same-old, same-old of your backyard, here are some ideas.

Create Your Own Backyard Cinema

While this will take a little work, and you have to have a projector, this can help you create a truly memorable backyard camping experience. Here’s how to do it:

  • Obtain the right projector – the projector must have a minimum of 3,000 lumens and be compatible with today’s 4K standard. And you will need to make sure you have an extension cord long enough to secure power
  • Stretch a white sheet over eight points of contact – some people can get away with less, but you have to make sure the sheet is taut and secure to create a screen without wrinkles. You can use a fence, anchor it between trees, or even attach it to the side of your house
  • Set up speakers – surround sound is a waste outdoors; go with stereo
  • Invest in an easy-up tent – even if rain isn’t in the forecast, you definitely don’t want any of this getting wet

Competition Is King When Camping

Whether it’s a storytelling contest, s’mores cookoff, or just an old-fashioned backyard wrestling match, camping time is competition time. If you are worried about your lawn looking good for all of those other days when it’s not camping weekend, consider investing in some composite patio pavers to create a stunning backyard appearance that won’t get damaged by cornhole, kan-jam, or any other type of lawn game.

Discover the Great Unknown of Your Own Property

There is probably more to your backyard than you ever realized. A fun activity with the kids is to do a backyard scavenger hunt. Have them list as many different kinds of plants, insects, or any other animals they see during a given hour. They may be surprised to find that their own home has more of the great unknown than they thought!

The Ultimate Guide to Family Friendly Backyard Camping

As relaxing as a camping trip sounds, there are instances when it is more trouble than you have time for. Therefore, if rounding up the family and heading to the mountains isn’t in the cards for you, don’t give up on the camping dream–use the pro advice listed above to create a family friendly camping adventure in your backyard!

Lisa Thompkins is a freelance writer living in Dallas, Texas. She works closely in the Home Improvement and Real Estate fields and has a background in Interior Design. When not writing, Lisa enjoys spending her time out on the lake with her friends and family. Lisa’s work as a freelance writer can be found on Building Product Advisor, a new construction industry resource launching in Fall 2022.

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