Camping is a great way to introduce kids to the outdoors and have a safe family adventure. But if you've ever been on a camping trip with small children, you know that there are drawbacks: You have to hike all of the gear out to the woods yourself, keep everyone covered with mosquito repellant, make sure the little kids stay clear of the campfire/lake/poison ivy, as well as other tasks. One way to ensure a safe, hassle-free camping experience is to pitch a tent in the backyard.
Unlike a real camping trip out in the wilderness, backyard campouts don't take a lot of planning and preparing. If the weather is warm, you don't even need a tent. The bare minimum is some sleeping bags, flashlights and preferably a campfire.
A campfire in the backyard might not work for everybody. If you have a bigger backyard, you can designate a corner for a small fire pit made from a small circle of stones on a gravel bed. If you have a smaller backyard, or you don't want to sacrifice a chunk of your lawn, you can invest in an inexpensive above-ground fire pit for less than $50. A gas grill will work in a pinch.
The greatest benefit of a backyard campout is that all the comforts of home are only a few steps away, including the bathroom and the kitchen. Stock the fridge with hot dogs and drinks, and don't forget marshmallows. Sing songs around the fire, tell stories and snuggle up in your sleeping bags as close to bedtime as possible. And if any of the kids get spooked in the middle of the night (or the sleeping bag isn't as comfortable as you remember), your bedrooms are ready and waiting.
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