Just because we are stuck at home because of social distancing doesn’t mean we can’t get outside and enjoy the warmer weather! Check out my guide below for camping in your backyard – including a bonus recipe for mini skillet s’mores!
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That’s not a picture of camping in the backyard, but I sure hope it gets you inspired to give it a try! I know that I’m getting antsy being stuck inside the house and I’m sure others are in the same boat. The weather is getting warmer, but right now it’s best to stay away from campgrounds and other people. Since staying home is very important right now, camping in your backyard is a great alternative to traditional camping that would be fun for anyone!
Tips for Camping in Your Backyard
Camping in your backyard doesn’t need to be complicated! Here are my tips for making the most of your at home experience:
Pretend That You’re on a Real Camping Trip
No need to be too strict about it – this is supposed to be fun and relaxing! But treating your backyard camping experience like a real camping adventure will give you the opportunity to get your gear dialed in before heading out into the woods! Nathan and I recently bought this lightweight backpacking tent and backpacking sleeping bag, so we’ll set these up and test them out before trekking them way out into the mountains! Use this as an opportunity to organize your gear and make a list of things you still might need.
Experiment with Recipes and Cooking Over a Fire
Camping in your backyard allows you to take the time to perfect your campfire recipes! If you mess up, the kitchen is steps away. No room for hangry here! If you have a fire pit, try cooking over the fire. We always use something from our collection of Lodge cast iron cooking pans – they’re all perfect for weekend camping trips and are super easy to clean!
If you don’t have a fire pit, try cooking over a portable camping grill! We have something like this in our pop-up camper for emergencies. Nathan and I also recently purchased this Wolf and Grizzly portable backpacking grill. It uses real fire wood and folds up super small! We like to take it snowshoeing and will definitely be using it this year for camping!
If you need a few recipe ideas, try cooking my Easy Sloppy Joe’s or Mini Skillet S’Mores (recipe at the end of this post)!
For Easy Sloppy Joe’s:
- Brown 1 lb. of ground beef, turkey, or chicken
- Once the meat is browned and cooked through, add in 1 can of Campbell’s Tomato Soup and 1 can of Campbell’s Gumbo Soup
- Simmer for a couple of minutes until thickened and then serve!
Set Up Yard Games
Yard games are a great way to add some extra fun and activity to your backyard camping trip! Here are some portable options that would be easy to take on any camping trip:
Have Fun and Relax!
Most importantly, have fun and don’t stress! No need to force anything. Of course, try to take my advice and treat this like a real camping trip – it will be more fun this way! But if it gets rainy, too cold, or you just aren’t feeling it, there is no shame in going inside. The point is to relax and enjoy a fun activity with your family!
Gear Recommendations for Camping in Your Backyard
I’m sure a lot of you already have some sort of camping gear, so definitely use what you have! We started off with a clearance tent from Sport’s Authority (remember that place?), some old blankets and a $15 air mattress from Walmart. It worked great for us! This goes to show that there are some creative ways to use what you have for camping trips.
But if you are using this as an opportunity to invest in some new camping items, whether it be for backpacking or camping in a camp ground with the family, here are my recommendations!
Our Favorite Camping Gear
We’ve done a lot of camping over the past couple of years and have really figured out what works for us! Here are some of our favorite backpacking and regular camping gear picks:
Beginner Camping Gear
If you have no camping gear but really want to try camping in your backyard, here are some items to get you started! A lot of these items are Kelty products, which I have found are a great quality with a lower cost than some of the other camping products out there. Plus, Kelty is a Colorado based company! These would be some great investment pieces that would transition well for normal camping trips also:
Mini Skillet S’mores Recipe for Camping in Your Backyard
Lastly, I wanted to share a fun little recipe with you that you can easily make while camping in your backyard! These would also be great to prep ahead to take on a normal camping trip as well!
These s’mores are made in mini cast iron skillets which is extra fun! I like this recipe because, instead of using graham crackers, you will make a soft and chewy graham cracker flavored cookie to go on top of your s’more!
You can make the cookies beforehand, and then assembly will be super simple when you are starting up the camp fire in your backyard! Of course, you can also substitute normal graham crackers for the cookie and these will be just as delicious.
I hope you enjoy this yummy treat around a warm fire while camping in your backyard sometime soon! It’s the perfect way to get outside, disconnect for a little while and spend some time with your loved ones.
Mini Skillet S’mores
For the Graham Cracker Cookies
- 1/3 cup all purpose flour
- 1/3 cup whole wheat flour
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp kosher salt
- 1/4 tsp baking soda
- 3 tbsp unsalted butter (room temperature)
- 1/3 cup light brown sugar
- 2 tsp honey
- 1 large egg
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
For the S'mores
- 3/4 cup chocolate chips
- 3/4 cup caramel chips
- 6 s'more marshmallows (linked below!)
For the Graham Cracker Cookies
- Preheat oven to 350°F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the flours, cinnamon, salt and baking soda. Set aside.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or in a large bowl with a hand mixer, beat the butter and sugar on medium-high speed until light and fluffy (about 2 minutes).
- Beat honey into the butter and sugar mixture until combined. Beat in the egg and vanilla until combined.
- Reduce the speed of the mixer to low and slowly beat in the flour mixture until just combined. Do not over mix.
- Scoop dough (about 1 ½ tablespoons each) onto the prepared sheets, leaving about 2 inches between each dough ball. Bake, one sheet at a time, for 9-10 minutes, until the edges are golden.
- Cool in the pans on a wire rack for 5 minutes and then place cookies on a wire rack to cool completely.
- Store in a bag for your camping trip or assemble as instructed below!
For the S'mores
- Fill each skillet with an equal amount of chocolate chips and caramel chips (or all chocolate chips).
- Top each skillet with a baked graham cracker cookie (or substitute normal graham crackers).
- Place each skillet on your camp grill and cook until the chocolate is melted (about 4 – 5 minutes).
- In the meantime, cut your marshmallows in half and roast over the fire until melted. If you are not using a fire, please see the alternative instructions in the notes below.
- Using an oven mitt, remove skillets from grill, top with a roasted marshmallow and enjoy!
- Alternative to Roasting Marshmallows – If you don’t have a campfire, simply place the chocolate chips in each skillet, top each skillet with a marshmallow, and then top with a cookie and set on the grill to melt the chocolate and marshmallow.
- Alternative For Graham Cracker Cookies – If you don’t want to make the cookies ahead, simply use graham crackers instead. It will taste just as delicious!
- This recipe makes 12 s’mores. You can always freeze these cookies for later and reduce the chocolate chips and marshmallows if you are making less!
- Tip – Prepare the cookies beforehand for either your backyard or backcountry camping trip!