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4 Tips for a Springtime Backyard Campout

Backyard campouts are a great way to gently introduce kids to the joy of ditching their bed for the night and sleeping in the great outdoors. Pottery Barn Kids has some suggestions to make the experience a positive one so you can move on to longer camping trips with the family.

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Hype It Up

Backyard camping with kids is a fun and memorable experience for all involved, but little ones who are used to a specific routine may be wary of the idea at first. You can make the activity more fun and appealing by hyping it up days or even weeks in advance. Children's books that focus on camping or sleeping under the stars can be a great way of introducing the idea and making the new adventure seem safer and more exciting. Be patient with your kids and let them build up their enthusiasm if they’re initially nervous.

Create a Complete Campsite

Putting up a tent in the backyard is a great first step, but you can make the backyard camping experience even more exciting by preparing a complete campsite with furniture and other comforts. You can arrange to spend most of the evening outdoors rather than just going out at the end of the night and going to sleep. Letting the kids hang out in the campsite area gives them time to adjust and feel comfortable in their new surroundings. When you set up the tent, don't hesitate to go all out with the comfort items. You can line the floor with nap mats or foam padding and bring in plenty of blankets and pillows to make it feel extra cozy. Treat the kids to new sleeping bags for even more excitement.

Make Flame-Free S'mores

Whether you have a backyard fire pit or not, oven-baked s'mores are much easier to make than the traditional method. Simply assemble the standard s'mores ingredients of graham crackers, chocolate and marshmallows. Then set up a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper, aluminum foil or a silicone mat and arrange six or eight graham crackers so their sides aren't touching. Place a square of chocolate and a marshmallow on each and place them under a fully heated oven broiler just long enough for the marshmallow to toast. The chocolate will melt more completely this way. You can either top them with another graham cracker or serve them open-faced at your outdoor campsite.

Remember Cordless Nightlight Comfort

If your kids prefer to have some light in their sleeping spaces at night, you can provide a nightlight replacement by bringing in a set of solar-powered LED string lights to hang up around the tent. Most tents have some sort of hanging loop for a lantern up top, and may also have straps or hooks around the sides that you can use for your lights. Star-shaped lights can bring a constellation effect into the mix for extra decorative fun. Kids who are used to a warm incandescent bulb's glow at night may prefer the yellow tone of warm-light LEDs.