Friday, July 18, 2014

Backyard Camping: A Convenient Alternative to the Real Thing

Camping is a great escape from the media and technology consumed lives we live, but sometimes we just don't have the time to get all packed up and plan a full camping trip...

Introducing Backyard Camping!

Maybe it's the kids first time camping and you want to have a trial run in the backyard? Or perhaps you only have one free day and night to camp and you want to take advantage of what little time you have by doing it in the backyard? Or it could be that you just want to spend some time outdoors without having to drive somewhere? Whatever your reasons are, backyard camping is a great alternative because camping is really just about being in nature and having fun outside, and we can do that in our backyards!

Here are four steps to have a successful backyard camping experience!

1. Turn your Backyard into a Campsite

  First you have to gather the gear and actually make your backyard feel like a campsite! This includes setting up the tent, building a fire(or makeshift fire), preparing your outdoor meals etc. You can use your regular camping tent, or get creative and create your own outdoor tent with rope and tarps! Or if you have a trampoline, you can set-up a tent on top of it and save time filling up the air mattress! For the campfire, if you can't have a real one, go ahead and set up LED candles or lanterns in an area where you can sit around them and tell stories, really getting the feel for a true campsite. As far as outdoor cooking goes, set up an outdoor camp kitchen! Use an outdoor grill or a portable one and cook up some great camping foods outside! Some never-fail meals include shish kabobs, rib-eye, stuffed cheeseburgers, meatballs, corn on the cob, and pasta salads. Visit our recipe blog for more. Bring out the camping chairs and any other camp gear you may have, and once everything is outside, stay there! Unless of course for the need of restroom trips.

 2. Get in the Camping Mindset

Even though you are outside, you should still do a bit of exploring rather than just going straight to the backyard. After setting up camp, pack a backpack, take some water, and go on a hike, even if its just around the neighborhood. Don't forget the sunscreen! Explore areas you have never seen before and make games of it! Put together a hobo scavenger hunt, and get the kids amerced in nature and learning new things. This step is very important to backyard camping because you get to leave your property and work up a bit of a sweat. Going on a little walk and exploring the nature that surrounds you will give you and the kids a new appreciation for the outdoors, and maybe even provide some new locations to play or walk around at in the future!

3. Keep the Kids Busy with Campsite Projects

 After the hike, you still might have some time before dinner for some fun campsite activities! Bug catching is always a fun and educational classic that will work just about anywhere outdoors. Let the kids create their own camping journal and have them write about their hike and draw pictures of the bugs, birds, or plants that they saw. Practice your bird calls, on your own or with a real bird call. Collect pinecones on your nature walk and make a bird feeder. There are plenty of fun activities to enjoy right in your backyard, all it takes is a little creativity and an open mind.

More creative outdoor activities here.

4. S'mores and S'more Pre-bedtime Activities

 Dinner's over, but it's not bedtime yet. Camping tradition of s'mores is in action, and even if you can't have a real fire, there are plenty of ways to improvise. One way is to have a do-it-yourself s'mores bar or cone station with all the fixings. Ever had salted carmel monkey s'mores? If you really want to roast marshmallows, just do it over a charcoal grill, you may not have the flames, but it still gets the job done. Another after dinner activity, if you don't mind a bit of technology, is screening a movie in your backyard. Set up a picnic area with blankets and pillows and watch it right on your laptop. Popcorn anyone?

To hear founder Dawn Bitz talk about making summer memories in your backyard, click here