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7 Essential Backyard Camping Ideas and Tips

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A father and his son camping in the backyard

By Sarah Parker Ward

There’s just something about a tent that kids of all ages seem to love, and its great family fun, too – 81 percent of campers in a recent survey agreed that camping has a positive impact on family relationships. But even if you don’t plan to join the roughly 40 million Americans headed for a full-on camping trip this year, you can still have that same fun with your own backyard campout.

So what do you need to know for a happy, healthy backyard camping adventure, even if camping isn’t really your thing? Read on for our list of backyard camping ideas, tips and activities.

  1. Pitch a Tent: Set up a tent and bring out the blankets and pillows. In our expert opinion, the more pillows in your backyard camping tent, the better! If you have sleeping bags, add those into the mix. Don’t have a tent? No problem. Just throw a sheet over a rope stretched between two trees and weigh down the four corners.
  2. Use a Ground Liner or Camping Tarp: To nobody’s surprise, sleeping on the ground isn’t super comfortable – and it can be even more uncomfortable if the bottom of your tent gets damp. While you are prepping for your backyard campout, lay out a large plastic sheet or tarp under your tent to prevent condensation from creeping up and line the bottom of your tent. Plus, you can lay out blankets to keep it soft and warm for when temperatures drop overnight.
  3. Prepare for Minor Knicks and Camping Injuries: Hey, you’re in the great outdoors, and small cuts often come with that territory. Bring some essential supplies – think BAND-AID® Brand Adhesive Bandages and some NEOSPORIN® -- just in case a sliver from a roasting stick strikes. This way you won’t let a simple first aid matter spoil the mood and send you bounding back through the house for something as simple as a bandage. 
  4. Download Nature Sounds? Not outdoorsy enough? If you’re in an urban or even suburban area competing with the sounds of man (read: car traffic and pedestrians), download some natural sounds onto your phone and pop it into mobile speakers.
  5. Plan for Campfire Alternatives: If space is limited, you’re surrounded by neighboring buildings, or your region is facing a burn ban on account of dry weather, there are other ways to cook those marshmallows. Consider a small propane burner, which will be more than enough to do the job. Don’t want to add the expense? You’ve got a stove mere feet from your camping spot – use your stove top to cook up hot dogs and your oven to bake s’mores.
  6. Tell Tall Tales: Storytelling has been a part of camping out since people have been sleeping under the stars. Don’t know any tall tales of your won? Google a few campfire stories beforehand and memorize the main points for a more spontaneous rendition. Your kids will be amazed.
  7. Disconnect from Your Phone: Before fully winding down for the night, enjoy some time simply talking under the stars. Whether truly under the stars or snuggled into your sleeping bags in the tent, take advantage of the peacefulness to really talk with your children. Keep your cell phone in the house & just embrace the chance to get to spend quality time with them.

In collaboration with National 4-H Council. Visit 4-H.org for more tips, ideas and activities for the entire family.

©Johnson & Johnson Consumer Inc. 2019

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