Backyard Campout Tips and Tricks

Setting up camp close to home takes the hassle out of outdoor trips -- and still delivers that dose of fresh air you and your family need. Backyard camping is also a great way to practice for the real thing -- plus you know there’s a restroom close by in case things get a little messy with the kids. When preparing to camp out at home, keep these tips in mind for a successful night in nature.

Pitch a Tent
Your house may be a few yards away, but that doesn’t mean you should be tempted to retreat to all of its comforts once you pitch a tent. So, don’t skimp when it comes to choosing a tent -- while you won’t need a backwoods four-season model, a blanket fort won’t cut it either.

Choose a tent that’s a good size for your family: Go with the not-too-big, not-too-small motto. It’s important that the tent has secure closure, like a zipper flap -- this’ll help keep bugs out of your sleeping space. Placing a few spare quilts or blankets under your sleeping bags will also add a little extra cushion -- while packing extra blankets may not be smart for the usual outdoor excursion, remember: You’ll only have to travel with the bundle from your closet to your backyard!

Go on a Nature Hunt
While you’ll likely spot a few natural wonders on a hiking trail, you can also find a few smaller scale versions in your own backyard.  Make a game out of gathering things you can find in nature; you can make a list and go on a good old-fashioned scavenger hunt or get official with a backyard bingo card like Thirty Handmade Days made for their campout.

Start a Fire
Outdoor flickering flames are a must when it comes to setting the campout scene.  After all, what’s a ghost story without a warm and gooey s’more fresh off the flame? Whether you decide to make your own pit or use a store-bought version, fire pit safety should be top of mind when setting up camp suggests Carol Nolte, Deputy State Fire Marshal of the West Virginia Fire Commission. You should exercise the same precautions you would with an open fire -- especially near low hanging trees and gardens that are more likely found in your yard than at a campground.

Backyard camping bonus: While you may want to try to start a fire using the bare basics, it doesn’t hurt to know you have some back up at home if you need it.

Campfire Goods
What better way to become one with nature than with a smoky charred hot dog in your hand? Still thinking? Then try imaging digging into a nice sizzling skillet of campfire nachos under the moonlight. There are tons of goodies that can be cooked-up outside, whether you want classic camping eats or something out-of-the-conventional-oven. You can even add some flair to an all-time favorite campfire treat; The Kitchn serves up some insanely delicious s’more alternatives. Liven up your chow session with some semi-scary stories for the kids -- and for the adults who’ve been known to jolt!