5 Ideas for Camping in the Backyard

Roughing it, backyard style. Thinkstock

Camping is just about the most summer fun your family can have, if your family is not afraid of bears, giardia, partying strangers who keep you up at night, the cold, the heat or mosquito bites. If you do fear any of those, your family is probably fairly prudent, as camping isn't always strictly s'mores and smiles.

But tent living doesn't have to mean using leaves as toilet paper or hoisting your dehydrated meals into a tree to prevent hungry nighttime critters from eating them. Nope, camping with the family is as easy as setting up a tent in the backyard and pretending that your iPad isn't within 10 strides. And the idea is simple enough that anyone with a little green space at their disposal can do it. In the U.S., the National Wildlife Federation even sponsors a "Great American Backyard Campout" every year to encourage families to spend some time outdoors.

In the next few pages, we'll look at some ways to make backyard camping a little bit more inventive than simply setting up a tent and rolling out the sleeping bag. First, consider an off-season excursion out back.