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Introduce your kids to the excitement of sleeping outdoors by camping in your backyard! Enjoy sleeping under the night sky while stargazing, roasting marshmallows, and telling camp stories. Not only can you enjoy these activities, but you can also enjoy the added amenities of being close to home. Whether the guest list is comprised of immediate family or close friends, a backyard campout is perfect for a sleepover or birthday party celebration. Before heading to the store to buy camping gear, see what you already have in your house. Your backyard camping checklist should include a tent, sleeping bags or bedrolls, a backpack, and flashlights. Prep Your Tent - Based on the number of guests and family members, more than one tent may be needed. If you want to spend more time having fun and less time setting up, try one of our Lightspeed Outdoors tents. Our easy-to-use tents include our innovative hub and built-in pole design that opens and closes in seconds. With tents that sleep 2 to 8 people, we have the right tent for every camping need, including a fun, family sleepover in the backyard! Prepare the Bedding - For a comfortable night under the stars, choose to catch some zzz’s with a Lightspeed Outdoors’ sleep pad. The 3’’ thick foam and R-Value of 9 provides insulation from the ground and extra warmth on those chilly nights. To help make the kiddos feel more comfortable, consider putting their favorite toys and belongings in the tent. If it’s warm enough out, you might be able to get away with just using blankets, but for the cooler nights, make sure everyone in your party has a sleeping bag to snuggle in. Games for Before Dark - Squirrel Tag With a squirrel catcher and a bunch of squirrels, this game is a fun twist on the regular game of tag! Each squirrel has his or her own tree (if you’re dealing with a treeless yard, try using lawn chairs instead) and dashes to another tree as soon as the squirrel catcher yells, “Squirrel scramble!” Whichever squirrel gets tagged in the process of switching trees becomes the new squirrel catcher. Catch the Bunny Begin this game by sitting in a circle and passing around a small, rubber ball (the bunny). After ten to fifteen seconds, throw in a beach ball to be passed around, too. This represents the farmer who is in dire need of catching that rabbit! Whoever is holding the bunny when the farmer catches up to it is out. To make this game a bit more tricky (and hilarious), allow the bunny to only go in one direction while the farmer can go in any direction in an attempt to catch his nemesis. Games for After Dark - Hide and Find Put together a prize pack (candy, cheap toys, squirt guns, etc.) in a plastic bag. Hide it in your yard and challenge the camping guests to find it. If they have a hard time, feel free to help them along by saying, “Lighter” when they are getting closer and “Darker” when they have moved further away from the prize pack. Ghost in the Graveyard Similar to tag, just with a spooky twist, Ghost in the Graveyard has one ghost who hides in the backyard while the other campers wait on base (back patio or back of the house). Those on base begin counting, “One o’clock, two o’clock…” and when they hit twelve o’clock, they shout, “Midnight! I hope there aren’t any ghosts tonight!” They then run to the backyard in search of the ghost. Whoever spots the ghost first exclaims, “Ghost in the Graveyard” and and everyone hurries back to base in hopes of not getting tagged. The person who gets tagged by the ghost is now the new ghost. Build a Bonfire - A sizzling fire is essential on any camping trip, including a campout in your backyard! Be sure to check with local authorities for permission before starting a fire and follow all precautions when lighting a fire. Feed the Crew - One of the benefits of backyard camping is not being too far from your kitchen for meal prep! Grilled Nachos What child doesn’t love a make-your-own meal? Allow each camping guest to grab a handful or two of tortillas and place them in the center of an aluminum foil sheet. Kiddos can add their choice of beans (pinto or black), tomatoes, salsa, avocado, and cheddar cheese. Fold in the corners of the aluminum foil to make a pouch and place on the grill for about 10 minutes, or until cheese is melted. S’mores on a Stick S’mores are always a tradition for any camping trip, but why not give it a little twist? It’s easy, safe, and allows for simple clean up (you’re welcome). Select your favorite chocolate sauce and warm it up in a shallow bowl or on a plate. Take crushed graham crackers and spread on another plate. Help the kids as they roast their marshmallows, followed by a good dip in the chocolate sauce and graham crackers. Viola – a bite-sized s’more! Do some stargazing and storytelling and enjoy the fun. Remember, if things get a little too cold or too scary, you can always take the campout indoors and try another night.

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