Family camping trips can be like a rite of passage. From setting up camp to searching for firewood, everyone had their role. Growing up with an entire family of scouts (my dad and brother are proud Boy Scouts and my mom and I, Girl Scouts), camping as a whole activity genre was practically in my blood — and yes, that includes backyard camping trips.
When you relocate the excursion and set up camp in your backyard, sure, some aspects of “roughing it” in the wild are eliminated (thanks in large part to the existence of running water and bathrooms in your home), but the bonding experience can be just as strong. So while hiking and more exploration-driven activities may be off limits, other aspects — like the chance to cook food and roast Stuffed Puffs® Chocolate Filled Marshmallows over the campfire for the perfect s’mores — are time-honored traditions you can enjoy no matter where your family pitches their tents.
Here, we’ve rounded up our favorite camping activities that are just as fun in the comfort of your backyard, including a few that may actually benefit from having your campsite a bit closer to home (backyard movies, we’re looking at you!). Keep reading for some inspiration from real-life backyard camping adventures.
When it comes to camping, whether in your backyard or on a campground, one thing is clear: s’mores are a must. So be sure to grab your supplies — including Stuffed Puffs® Chocolate Filled Marshmallows. These tasty marshmallows are stuffed with creamy milk chocolate, which means you have one less trip to make to the kitchen in order to truly enjoy your campfire treat. When you roast your Stuffed Puffs® Chocolate Filled Marshmallows over the fire, you ensure that both the marshmallow and the chocolate are cooked to melty, gooey perfection. Then simply sandwich it between two graham crackers (or maybe add one of these surprisingly delicious ingredients to the mix!) and enjoy.
Telling stories — scary or not — around a campfire is a staple of any good camping trip. Sonya Kerr, mom of four and founder of House of Kerrs, loves to share spooky stories around the campfire. For her family, the best ones are “very unscripted and improvised,” she tells SheKnows. Need more inspiration for your campfire? These kid-friendly campfire stories are just scary enough.
Just because you’re camping in your backyard, doesn’t mean you have to miss out on the fun of scavenging for supplies. Instead, you can recreate the same experience with scavenger hunts tailored to your backyard. Jacquie Fisher, mom of two and founder and CCO of Edventures with Kids, has scavenger hunts tailored to different kinds of yards. With her nature scavenger hunt, everyone will keep their eyes peeled for things like acorns, leaves and different animals making noise (yes, the neighbor’s dog counts!). If you live in a more suburban or urban environment, this more general backyard scavenger hunt may offer the right entertainment. And if you want the scavenging fun to go into the night, check out her after-dark scavenger hunt, which will have you gazing at the moon and stars, listening for nocturnal animals and searching for things that glow in the dark.
Some Friendly Family Competition
Want to put the sibling rivalry to rest during your backyard camping trip? Set up some friendly family competition — and consider setting the teams up kids-versus-parents style. For Nicole Cline, mom of four and founder of Not Quite Super Mom, a night of backyard camping isn’t complete without some family games.
“Our favorite backyard track and field activity is the team relay race,” Cline tells SheKnows. “We like to get creative and use whatever we have on hand to make the race silly and fun. Last time we [had everyone put] on a layer of clothing over what they were currently wearing, which ended up being hilarious! Our second favorite is the obstacle course. Again, we like to get creative here and use what we have. I had (no shame) lots of delivery boxes that we used for hurdles during one leg of the course.”
Have extra Stuffed Puffs® Chocolate Filled Marshmallows on hand? “Marshmallows and camping go hand-in-hand for our family,” she says. “Typically we end up with extra marshmallows, so I’m always looking for ways to use them up. During our last backyard track and field event, we had racers scoop up marshmallows onto a spoon and race to transfer five to another bowl approximately 20 feet away. If you dropped your marshmallow, you have to start over.”
On a clear night, few things beat the simple pleasure of stargazing. When you look up and see a swath of bright stars dotting the pitch black sky, you’re reminded of the vastness of universe. When Fisher’s children were younger, she would host backyard camping trips and has fond memories of stargazing. Her son has a telescope that the family would bring out. But you don’t have to have a telescope to enjoy this backyard camping activity. Search Pinterest for stargazing printables and make teams amongst yourselves, racing to see who can find the most constellations first.
If you’ve got a big family and need to honor early bedtimes (we get it, that routine is everything — even in the summer!), consider quieter card games. Amber Shimel, mom of five and founder of Amber Likes, recently hosted a backyard camping night for her family. “We also played [card] games in the tent to allow little ones to go to sleep while oder kids were still wide awake,” she tells SheKnows. “This allowed us all to still be together, but accounted for earlier bedtimes for little ones.” Her family’s go-tos? Uno and Slamwich.
A Backyard Movie
Even though I’m pretty sure the most resourceful among us could figure out how to create an outdoor movie setup at any campsite, the idea of being glued to a screen may seem antithetical for some of the camping purists out there. But in your backyard? A movie can be the perfect way to end the evening.
Take it from Bri Grajkowski, mom of two and founder of BriGeeski — one of her family’s favorite activities during a backyard campout is the backyard movie. “Watching a movie in the backyard is fun because it’s a new environment and we all watch together,” she tells SheKnows. “We share some of my husbands famous popcorn, which is made with lots of butter and taco seasoning. Some of our favorite movies to watch are Minions, Moana and Trolls. We’ve also been picking out old classics like Henry And The Hendersons and Back To The Future!”
This article was created by SheKnows for Stuffed Puffs® Chocolate Filled Marshmallows.