WIth the current isolation in place all across the country, Americans are finding new, innovative ways to make the most of the situation. Sometimes, though, the old tried-and-true solutions are the best. You won’t miss the long plane ride and hours driving to a campground when you have the ideal vacation spot right behind your house. After all, you’ve spent time and money on cultivating your backyard into a serene, naturally beautiful space with all the amenities you might need. So bust out the tents, sleeping bags, and s’mores supplies; it’s time to turn backyard campouts into the ultimate cabin fever reducer.
Fresh Air, Fresh Food
If you have a patio or picnic table you can still sit down for a nice family meal while roughing it on your backyard campout. Sure you could eat around a fire, but that gets tricky when you’re serving anything more elaborate than hamburgers or hotdogs. When you’re at the table your possibilities are limitless. From salads to side dishes to chips and dip, there’s room for everything on the table, all within easy reach of your hungry family. Put an apron on dad and send him to the grill. Ribs, burgers, steaks, chicken - everything is better on a barbecue. And what about grilled corn on the cob? Roasted vegetables tossed in balsamic vinaigrette? That’s bbq at its finest!
Before you get started be sure to wipe down your table with a solution of two parts water to one part bleach, or use a store-bought spray. Either way, you’re killing any germs or bacteria that may be left over from the last meal or even from the long winter hibernation. You can even take the added step of keeping your table under a waterproof, mold and mildew resistant cover. Then you know your table is clean and dry and ready for a quick wipe-down.
Fun ‘n’ Games
From Uno to Connect 4 to Life to Cards Against Humanity, it’s time to open the storage closet and break out the games! Hours can be spent laughing and enjoying each other as you pit your top-notch skills against each other for family bragging rights. If you start your campout early, you can even set up the yard for a croquet or bocce ball tournament to really get the competitive juices flowing. Combine ALL the games for one ring to rule them all: the family game night championship trophy!
Get Fired Up
Whether the trees are bare or blooming, no backyard campout is complete without a roaring fire in the outdoor fireplace. If you don’t have one, you may already have invested in a firepit. Whichever it may be, there’s nothing quite like sitting around the fire’s light, and it’s a perfect venue for impromptu singalongs and ghost stories. You can even unleash your inner caveman and use the open flames to cook everything from hotdogs to marshmallows.
A damp firepit makes starting and maintaining a fire difficult. But if you keep it covered when it’s not in use, your firepit will stay nice and dry and ready for action whenever the mood strikes you.
Stay Cozy Under the Stars
If a fire isn’t an option a patio heater is the perfect way to keep your family warm during the chillier months. They’re perfect to use to keep warm while you eat, and then you can wheel them over to your tents and stay warm all night without having to monitor or stoke a fire. A nice cover will keep the rain and bugs away from your heater when it’s not in use as well, so you know its sensitive components will stay rust-free and ready for action.
If you have smaller, portable heaters, they can work like a charm as well. Run an outdoor extension cord and turn the heat to whatever temperature makes you comfortable and the evening cozy. Just make sure you have a long outdoor cord to reach the tents. You can even put these smaller units directly inside each tent. Talk about a snug sleep!
Camping is Better with Movies
Okay, so movie night isn’t a traditional camping activity. But there’s no reason to let your outdoor TV go to waste. So after you’ve eaten, talked, and sang songs around the fire, you and your family can settle down for a nice movie night under the stars. Break out the popcorn and drinks (maybe a little vino for mom & dad wouldn’t hurt…). Then, after the credits roll, you can slip your cover back on over your TV and head for bed without unplugging anything or moving your TV inside.
- Make sure to turn off your sprinkler system before going to sleep. Waking up to an unexpected cold shower trapping you inside your tent is less than exciting.
- Bugs don’t care about your property line; make sure to have some bug spray handy.
- It’s always nice to have a flashlight if you have to go back inside during the night.
- Portable electric or battery-operated lanterns are fantastic for keeping the tent lit up for some bedtime reading until it’s time for lights out.
- Bring a cooler outside with you so you don’t have to go back in for beverages.
- Earplugs are a must if you have snore-prone family members.
- Reusable marshmallow sticks are a convenient and reliable alternative to wooden sticks (and won’t leave dirt or bark in your marshmallows).