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Backyard Camping Ideas For The Whole Family

Backyard Camping Ideas For The Whole Family

Spend summer under the stars

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After spending so much time indoors during the coronavirus pandemic, many Americans are in need of an outdoor getaway or an adventurous summer vacation. But since it’s still an uncertain time, one solution is to turn the backyard into an adventure.

With just the right snacks, lights, blankets and more, turning your backyard into the perfect campsite is only a few steps away. It’s a fun and incredibly easy way to experience the great outdoors without packing the car or lugging everyone’s sleeping bags through the woods.

Set up a tent

Set up a tent

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You can either bust out your go-to camping tent from storage for this outdoor summer staycation, or get creative and set up a makeshift tent with curtain rods and sheets.

Make a bonfire


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If you already have a fire pit you’re all set to go, but if you don’t, first contact the local fire department to see if there are any specific rules and regulations for outdoor fires in your area. Generally speaking, you’ll need the following to create your own fire without an actual pit: bricks or stones; tinder such as twigs, pine needles, bark or newspaper; large sticks for kindling; and logs for fuel.

Crank up the grill

Crank up the grill

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One of life’s simplest pleasures is cooking outdoors on the grill. Since you're planning to spend your evening outdoors, why not cook dinner out there as well? You can stick to camp classics like hotdogs and burgers or get fancy with grilled steaks, chicken and even pizza.

Make s'mores...


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Is there a more quintessential campout food than s’mores? The best part about these gooey, sticky childhood treats is you don’t even need an actual campfire. You can easily make s’mores on the stovetop, in the oven or even in the microwave. For the oven version, simply sandwich two graham cracker squares around a fluffy marshmallow and two pieces of chocolate, wrap it tightly in foil and pop in the oven at 400 degrees for about five minutes. Make sure to devour them while they’re toasty and warm.

...And other easy treats

Make more easy treats


S'mores are pretty perfect, but to mix up the fireside snacks, add any of these easy desserts like molten chocolate cakes and party popcorn to the campout menu. Also since your kitchen is only steps away, cleanup will be a breeze.

Make some drinks

Make some drinks

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While the kids enjoy a cup of hot chocolate, pour yourself a fruity cocktail or try a delicious mocktail recipe to sip on after dinner and snacks have been served and cleaned up. And to add to the outdoor vibe, you can keep a thermos of hot chocolate or coffee nearby for refills.

Bring the blankets


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Any camping experience must have piles of soft blankets. Keep a basket of blankets next the tents if someone gets chilly.

Hang up string lights

String lights

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For more magical ambience, hang up some twinkling string lights around trees and bushes or across the backyard between makeshift poles. If you live in the city, the stars might not be too visible anyway, but if you’re in the country, turn the lights off for stargazing. This will also set the ideal mood if you’re throwing a sleepover quarantine birthday.

Do some stargazing


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If it’s a clear night out, spread out a long blanket, some pillows and cuddle up together to look at the stars. You can research some constellations beforehand and search for ones you might spot. Stargazing in the stillness of the night can be a peaceful way to deal with stress too.

Sleep in sleeping bags

Sleeping bags


If you’ve ever taken a road trip to a beautiful national park, you probably have sleeping bags in your garage. But if you don’t have sleeping bags, you can simply use comforters and other bedding to lay inside your tents.

Use extra padding

Use extra padding

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No one wants to wake up with rocks and sticks underneath them. This neat trick will guarantee a softer sleep for everyone when spending the night outside. All you need to do is place a yoga mat beneath each sleeping bag for an extra layer of foam padding.

Don't forget the mosquito repellent

Mosquito repellent

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Whether you’re in a forest or in your own backyard, mosquitos can really put a damper on the mood. Make sure to get bug spray or mosquito repellent candles to ward off the little pests. No, mosquitos cannot transmit coronavirus.

Read books or share stories

Read books or share stories

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Story time around a campfire is what summer dreams are made of, no matter how old you are. Either read a favorite book out loud or retell classic family stories.

Tell scary stories

Scary stories

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If the kids are old enough for some spooky stories or tales of haunted places, find some short tales to tell in the dark. If your little ones do get scared, home is just a few steps away.

Use lots of pillows

Lots of pillows

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Any cozy campout needs an abundance of pillows — not only just to sleep on, but also in case someone wants to start an outdoor pillow fight.

Catch fireflies in jars

Catch fireflies in jars

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If your kids are into insects and bugs, there’s no better summer night activity than chasing fireflies. Your kids can catch fireflies and drop them inside a clear glass jar to see it light up — just make sure to set them free right after.

Play outdoor games

Outdoor games

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There are lots of games to play in the backyard that will keep everyone busy for hours, such as Twister, freeze tag and water balloon catch. You’ll be glad a change of clothes is only a few feet away.

And board games

Board games

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For a more calm evening activity, bring out the board games and get competitive. Check out these games for dinner parties, which work just as well as for outdoor family game night.

Break out the glow sticks and sparklers

Glow sticks and sparklers


To go along with the starlight and string lights, order some colorful glow sticks for the kids to wear or play with. If you’re doing a backyard campout to celebrate Fourth of July, consider supplying the family with sparklers.

Go on scavenger hunts

Scavenger hunts

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A backyard scavenger hunt will take your campout to the next level and make your own home feel like an adventure. You can write names of bugs or flowers as well as small objects like rocks and garden gnomes on a list. As the kids search for the items, have them check each one off. The best part, scavenger hunts are something you don’t even need a backyard for.

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