Putting up a tent together as a family can be a fun, gratifying experience for everyone. Try setting up your tent the night before, so you have a basic idea of how set up works to minimize confusion (and frustration) when instructing little kids.
For optimal family tent time, comfort is key. Make sure you have extra blankets and a warm layer handy, like fleece, in case the night gets chilly. Fill the inside with the welcoming glow of a camping lantern to create a cozy, magic-like environment kids will love (also great for comforting anyone who’s scared of the dark). And when it comes to choosing a sleeping bag, never skimp on quality. A good sleeping bag is essential to the quality of your camping experience. Depending on the weather and your location, you may want to choose a warmer sleeping bag if the temps tend to drop significantly overnight. If the hard ground is still a concern or you want extra comfort, you can also add a sleeping pad or air mattress for more cushioning.
Sleeping outside for the first time can be scary for some kids. To help your little ones feel safe and secure, have them bring their pillows from beds inside and their favorite stuffed animal or toy. This familiar connection to home will help them feel more at ease.
Camping in the backyard doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy the classic campsite activities that make it so popular. Want a roaring campfire? Set up a bunch of camp chairs around a fire pit, toast s’mores, tell ghost stories and bask in the soft glow while you stargaze. Give everyone a headlamp and have a nighttime scavenger hunt. Start a game of flashlight tag. You can even make your backyard campsite even more joyful and unforgettable by stringing up beautiful lights.
Eating outside is one of the best parts about camping. So whether you roast dogs over the firepit, do some grilling or create the ultimate family picnic, make it a fun part of the experience. Your kids will really enjoy it (and so will you). Don’t feel like cooking? Get your favorite Chinese or pizza place delivered and enjoy it outside your tent. Plus, great camping trips always have great snacks, so in addition to the main course, bring a bunch of treats for both kids and adults to enjoy throughout the night.
Can’t cook s’mores over a firepit or grill? Make them inside using a microwave or oven and bring them outside.
No matter where you’re camping, things like bug spray and water are always good essentials to have on hand. But remember, what’s truly essential to your camping experience really depends on you and your family. Your campout should be whatever you want it to be. If that means having board games and no digital devices allowed, there is a lot of joy to be found by unplugging and focusing on simpler things. If your idea of a great backyard camping trip involves a chair, cooler and a decent WIFI signal, set your camp up accordingly. The most important thing isn’t what you have when you’re there, it’s that you’re there at all.