The Ultimate Guide to Backyard Camping This Summer

by: Marc Broussard
Camping is all about sleeping under the stars, exploring and appreciating nature, indulging in traditional camp eats and enjoying the company of who you are with. All of this is easily replicated in your backyard. Here are a few tips to create the ultimate backyard camping experience.
Backyard camping guide for summer 2020 staycation

As the country slowly reopens, parents are trying to figure out the annual summer vacation. With social distancing still imperative, backyard camping makes for an ideal family staycation. 

While you might not be able to camp in the forest, or make new friends over a nightly campfire, you will avoid noisy campsite neighbors, enjoy an extremely inexpensive “getaway” and have access to indoor plumbing. The trade off might not be so bad after all.

More: The Top Outdoor Games for Kids

Boiling down camping to its essence, it’s simply about sleeping under the stars, exploring and appreciating nature, indulging in traditional camp eats and enjoying the company of who you are with. All of this is easily replicated in your backyard.

Here are a few tips to create the ultimate backyard camping experience:

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Tent

A great backyard camp experience starts with a good tent. Find a flat surface and involve the whole family in pitching it. Use yoga mats to line the floor and layer sleeping bags and pillows for comfort, or go glam and forego sleeping on the ground for a luxurious air mattress. (Looking for a tent big enough for the family? Check out our top pick here.)

Lighting

Get out those holiday lights and string them around the backyard to set the scene. Consider lighting several citronella candles to add to the ambiance and keep pesky bugs away. Also, make sure there are flashlights for any middle of the night bathroom runs.

Campfire Eats

Half the fun of camping is enjoying and introducing your kids to classic camp fare, and at home you can get more creative since you have access to your refrigerator and your BBQ grill. 

You’ll want to have the traditional roasted hot dogs and s’mores (check out this awesome family-sized s’mores kit), but take the opportunity to fire up some grilled meats, veggies and even pizza to mix things up a bit. Snacks like trail mix, granola bars and juice boxes are also camp staples to have on hand.

Family Fun

To really make a backyard campout seem like a true vacation, you need to have a wealth of activities to entertain the family. Here are our favorite ideas:

  • Plan a neighborhood nature scavenger hunt. Have a list of trees, flowers and birds each person or team needs to find. Use cellphone cameras to document the find. Have a prize for the winning team. The hunt can be easily modified to find elements in the neighborhood like a blue mailbox, red door or porch swing. 
  • Old-school games like hide-and-seek, tag and charades are easy to play in the backyard. Now is a good time to haul out that bocce ball set or jarts that are collecting dust in the garage and put them to good use. 
  • At night, gather by the fire pit, roast s’mores and tell scary ghost stories. 
  • If it’s a cloudless night, teach your kids about the night sky by helping them locate constellations.

The summer of 2020 will be like no other in recent history, but with a little creativity you can still salvage the annual summer vacation with a backyard camping staycation – and save some money while you’re at it!

Marc Broussard has been with BBQ Guys for 17 years. He is the company’s resident guru for everything related to the engineering, materials and functionality of BBQ grills, smokers and luxury outdoor kitchens