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Backyard Camping Fun

On a lovely spring day in May, our daughters, ages 9 and 6, begged us to camp in the backyard. Though I’d had a movie night planned, I couldn’t say no to them, as the weather was perfect, the summer bugs weren’t out yet, and well, we hadn’t been out of the house in weeks.

At this point, even a trip to the backyard seemed exciting. We’re not big campers, but we did buy a nice tent last summer in anticipation of getting a trip together. So, we finished up dinner, and set about setting it up. 

The girls helped their dad pitch the tent, while I gathered pillows, blankets, books and flashlights. Pretty soon, we were in the tent, ready for bed. The girls were giddy and attempted a few ghost stories, then I read them some of the Harry Potter book we’ve been working on and tried to get to sleep.
Aside from the girls being way too wound up to get to bed quickly, we also realized that our backyard is loud. There were peepers and bigger frogs making a racket, a fox yapping at the neighbor’s dog, and older neighborhood kids still playing outside.

But as darkness truly set in, everything calmed down and eventually we got to sleep. And then woke up with the sunrise. This was my least favorite part of the adventure, but I did manage to snooze a little while the rest of the family went inside for breakfast.

It was a nice family adventure and one that we sorely needed after so many weeks of being cooped up in the house. Here are a few ways you can ensure a backyard camping success.

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Go All In

It’s one thing to just throw the tent in the backyard like we did, but you can also amp up your adventure by truly making it feel like you’re far from home. Here are some ways to enjoy the full experience.

Let the kids help pitch the tent—Nothing makes kids feel more important than letting them help with the technical details.
Fire—Make dinner on the grill, or light the firepit if you have one to make the experience authentic. And of course, make S’Mores (See sidebar for fun recipes)
Play Games—Yard games like cornhole before sunset, catching fireflies at dusk, and flashlight tag after dark round out the experience.
Stay up Late—Summer sunsets are late, enjoy the evening outside and let the kids enjoy some darkness, too.
Shadow puppets and ghost stories—These classic camping activities go without saying.

Don’t Have a Tent?
You can still enjoy an evening outside by watching for bats, listening for nighttime bugs and sounds, catching fireflies and making S’mores. Play a little flashlight tag, then head in when the kids get sleepy!

No yard? No Worries!
Make a fort, or crash all together in the living room! Grab any S’More fixin’s on-hand or make some popcorn, turn off the lights and TV and read by flashlight, tell some ghost stories and hit the sack.

Did Somebody Say S’Mores? Check out these fun recipes and ways to enhance your next backyard cookout!

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