On this particular evening, you will want to invite around one less friend than what your tent requires. This way, you get extra sleeping space and don't end up spooning your brothers' sisters' aunties' dog's leg, should they be invited. Also, you can use that as an excuse not to invite your 'annoying' friend.
I need to stop here and refrain from getting excited at this point. Just writing about a campout has got me energised. Okay, let's continue.
I would first like to start with the things you don't need. These things are:
Your mobile phone Your Gameboy
Honestly, let's try and enjoy a night in the big wild wilderness without getting distracted. I know you want to tell everyone on Facebook about every second of your awesome campout, and you want to pass the next level on Mortal Kombat, but just for one night, let's not.
Also, there is no phone coverage in the big wild wilderness of your backyard world anyway. So there.
To start, you'll want 'The Basics':
- A tent
- An air mattress
- Loads of blankets and pillows
Don't give me that look. You always need these basics as a foundation. Please, read on because I promise this campout will go from sort of okay, to ultimate.
The little extras:
Now if you've read my article on 'How to build an indoor cubby', you will have read about the extra little things that make the cubby. Like the food and secret hiding spots.
But with a backyard campout, your 'little extras' differ. We are in a different environment here. We are in no way threatened by pirates, thankfully, and our surroundings consist of small creatures and stars. So let's use this.
First up, you'll want to bring in a tape recorder. You know those ones where you can record your voice when you press play and record? Old school I know, but there is no other option than to be old school when it comes to my ultimate campout.
You are going to play what I like to call "Make your own Story". But I'll get to that later when I talk about making your own backyard campfire.
You'll want torches unless you are quite happy to sit in the dark. But if you are like me and after watching Wolf Creekin 2005 can only operate in severe sunlight, you might like a torch.
Also, as a hint from a reader of my previous Cubby post, it might be magical to add some fairy lights to your tent.
If I was camping at the perfect venue, it would be right by a river. The good part about the backyard is that there isn't a river so you are less likely to get Ross River. The bad part is, you can't go fishing.
Wait yes you can, with my ultimate backyard campout fishing game.
Grab yourself one light fishing rod, with an attached practice weight. On the day of your camping adventure, head out to a cheap store and buy some prizes. Candy is good, and never disappoints. Grab some large-ish containers and fill them all with a prize. You then take it in turns to cast the rod into the container. If the rod lands inside, you win that prize.
It's also great if you can dress up for the occasion in a fishing hat and vest, or in a large fish suit or fishing rod suit.
You can't have a campout without scary stories around a campfire. But this one we are going to do a little differently.
To make your campfire:
Grab some logs and load them up on top of each other out on the lawn. Something that I think also looks nice is some stones in a circle around the logs.
Using red, yellow and orange cellophane, place cut up portions over the light part of your torches. Use elastic bands to keep them in place.
Now stick your torches pointing upwards and outwards out of the logs and huzzah, you have fake fire.
I suggest fake fire because everyone knows that as a human klutz, I would probably burn my house down.
Now it's story time.
You don't want one person to hog all the storytelling so you are going to share it.
With your tape recorder on record, one person begins the story. Make sure it's very scary. You might like to start with one of the following sentences:
"He was in a world of pain. The acid in his eyeballs and fingerless hands made it difficult to clutch his wife's bag off the kitchen bench and she was getting very angry because she really wanted to go shopping".
"There were clowns everywhere, the kind that don't blink. They were looking directly into my eyes and they just wouldn't blink. They covered every corner of the room. I was surrounded. I thought this was my worst nightmare, until..."
When the story is finished, if it ever finishes, you can then listen back and see how ridiculous it got, and then try and sell it to your local newspaper for publishing.
Scare your friends:
Obviously you want to scare your friends. It's just too easy. You are outdoors, and have just told the scariest of stories. So here is how.
Excuse yourself from the tent and run into the spare room where you have left the supplies you will need. This includes, a 16 pack of toilet paper, sticky tape, and strawberry jam.
Wrap your whole body in toilet paper, taping it to yourself as you go. Now this may take some time, so before you leave you might want to tell your friends you are stepping inside to watch 'Titanic'. That should give you plenty, and it's believable because 'Titanic' won heaps of awards, who wouldn't want to watch it.
Then, tip a jar of strawberry jam on your head.
Walk over to the tent, but make sure you are stiff legged, and they can hear the stomping. You might want to include a few slight grunts for effect. That should scare them. And if it doesn't, well silly you for pouring jam all over yourself hey?
Otherwise, take a selection of small dolls and figurines that don't blink and scatter them around the tent, so that when your friends wake up they will automatically be forced into an all out stare off with plastic dolls. It doesn't get much creepier than that.
My favourite. Remember to bring the essentials: Marshmallows, hot dogs, a pot of coffee, and cheese.
As you have a fake fire, you can always play the game where you just pretend to toast marshmallows, that's always fun.
I hope that this has given you plenty of fuel to host your own ultimate backyard campout.
Oh, and before, you might like to rent out a scary movie just to get the scary vibe going. My suggestions are 'Texas Chainsaw Massacre', 'Nightmare on Elmstreet', or 'The Princess Diaries'.