I don't know about your family, but my family LOVES camping! There is just something awesome about loading up all your stuff, finding the perfect camping spot, roasting hot dogs, marshmallows and just enjoying nature. Sometimes with work and family obligations, it's hard to get out of town to go camping. If your kids are anything like mine, camping can be as simple as sleeping in a tent. It's really easy to make backyard camping just as exciting an experience as heading up to the mountains to camp.
The only thing you really need to have a successful backyard camp out is sleeping bags, a tent, and some genuine excitement. :-) Even the tent is optional! Nothing like sleeping under the stars! It also works great if you have a trampoline in your backyard...trampolines are SUPER fun to sleep on, even if everyone wakes up in a pile in the middle. :-) Josh had the boys help set up the tent to give them a little experience of setting it up. For our backyard camp out we had a tent (since it was a clear night, we left the rain fly off so the boys could look at the stars), sleeping bags, a battery operated lantern, a few mini flash lights and our favorite stuffed animals. Another great idea would be to have some glow sticks, glow bracelets/wands to have some muted light through out the night.
A couple of safety precautions we took were to make sure our lock was on the side gate, just in case. We also had our Newfie, Tyra right next to the tent. While she's a big sweetie, she takes care of her boys. :-) Josh slept in our room, with the window open so he would be able to hear any noises. I slept in the living room so I would be as close as possible in case anyone needed me. :-) Of course as soon as the boys fell asleep, they were out for the night!
Now no camping trip is complete without s'mores. And much to my dismay, we don't have fire pit in our backyard (yet). So I whipped up some Oven S'mores for the boys to enjoy. You just need your regular s'mores ingredients, a cookie sheet and your oven.
Set your oven to broil and layer your graham cracker, chocolate, and a marshmallow. Set them under the broiler and keep a close eye on them. After a minute or so, the top will start to brown and you will notice that the marshmallow has gotten much bigger. Once the tops of your marshmallows are lightly browned and are soft, pull them out and top with a second graham cracker.
Voila! Your oven s'mores are complete and ready to be devoured! I have to admit, it was nice to not have to worry about a fire, hot roasters and all that. Clean up was super quick with minimal mess! :-)
Check out these happy faces! Shortly after they finished up their s'mores they were settled in the tent telling "spooky" stories. Mainly their stories consisted of Pokemon battles, but hey they were having fun so who am I to judge?! I love that they got to have a fun experience and feel like they were "on their own" for the night. Next time, I will have to make sure to remind them that during the summer just because the sun is up doesn't mean it's time to be crazy outside. By 7:30am, they were bouncing on the trampoline and have a great old time. I'm not sure the neighbors appreciated it very much, so I had them come inside and eat breakfast before we went back outside to "break camp".
A backyard camp out can be ANYTHING you want it to be. You can do a full on camping experience, or just set up the tent for bedtime. It's also a wonderful way to get younger kids used to sleeping in a tent if it's not something they've done before. What are your favorite backyard camping traditions? I'd love to hear about them!
Be sure to check out all the other awesome posts for the Summer Survival Series hosted by The Joys Of Boys! There are so many great ideas that can help beat the summer blues!