Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Must-Haves to Make Overnight Camping in the Backyard Fun

I Can Feel It in the Air
I don't know about you, but this time of year gets me thinking about s'mores and cozy sleeping bags.  When the end-of-summer evenings begin to turn cool and there is a crisp feeling in the air, your backyard is the perfect place to camp and enjoy the weather. Why go to all the trouble of packing up and leaving home when you can have your own camping fun right in the backyard?  No gas to buy, no park fees to pay, no hours to drive --- just grab your stuff and make your backyard camp site your family's new favorite place to be.   To help you prepare for your evenings in the backyard, this is the first of a series of posts to help you get organized and stay safe with a very special post at the end about night critters

Can Camping in the Backyard Really be Fun?
Sure, it can!  The nice thing about camping in the backyard is that you only need to worry about the essentials.  It will take time to prepare everything, but having these items on-hand at the site will prevent you from having to trek back and forth dozens times between the campsite and the house.  The key to a successful and fun backyard camping with kids is to make sure they are comfortable, safe and have things to do to keep them busy. To be sure everyone has an enjoyable experience I developed the following checklist:

Essential Family Backyard Camping Checklist:

For comfort 
  • Tent (or blanket, tarp, bed sheet or sheet of plastic draped over a clothesline or tree branch, with corners held down by stakes or rocks)
  • Sleeping bag (or a sheet and blankets or comforter)
  • Sleeping pad (or air mattress, old comforter or blanket) to keep out the chill from the ground
  • Pillows
  • Camp chairs or something to sit upon
  • Table or blanket for eating and game playing outside
  • Clothing - several layers, which can be removed or added depending on the weather
  • Hats - use your judgment on the type based on the weather
  • Insect repellent
  • Flashlight (with extra batteries) for trips to the bathroom, easing night time fears and reading – one for each child to prevent arguments.
For meals 
  • Full drinking bottles
  • Munchies and/or food you can cook if you have a campfire (i.e. marshmallows, graham crackers, chocolate bars for s'mores)
  • Long, sturdy sticks for cooking over the camp fire (i.e. s’mores, hot dogs)
  • Cooking and eating utensils
  • Pocket knife
  • Napkins and paper or dish towels
  • Water (in a jug or cooler)
  • Plates and cups
  • Matches
  • Trash bag
 For fun  
  • Games, books, playing cards, crayons, paper 
  • Identification guides (field guide to animals, insects, birds, trees, stars, etc.) 
  • Items for nature exploration (magnifying glass, binoculars, journal, etc.) 
  • Camera 
  • Musical instruments and song books
If you know of something your family can't be without when camping in the yard, please add to my list via the comments below.  We would all like to hear your great ideas!

Please check back on Monday for tips on how to stay safe when camping in the backyard.


  1. Great post! We just went camping in the backyard for the first time this weekend. Kids loved playing in the tent -- and s'mores of course! Looking forward to the series.

  2. Thanks for this list. I'm planning to organize a backyard camping with my kids next weekend so I could teach them how to survive a real camping when we have time to do it someday. Camping would really test your resourcefulness to create things using what you only got. kershaw knives

  3. I've gone back yard camping when I was young and its good to think that the stuff listed here is all that I would have used so me and my kids are gonna do this now

  4. Thank you so much for making this list!
    Your list really helped!!!!


  6. thanx for the list

    didn't know camping in the backyard can be so fun