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tentIf you were dying to go camping this summer, but never got around to it, no need to fret. You can still go on that idyllic trip you were dreaming of ... right in your own backyard!

In a lot of ways, a camping trip in the yard is a lot more fun than the "real thing" -- and let's face it, there couldn't be an easier (or cheaper) trip.

Here are 5 ways to have the ultimate camping trip in your yard. And if you're skeptical about things, two words for you: No bears.

1. Set everything up during the day. Don't wait until dusk to start pitching the tent, as sundown is the perfect time for games, cooking, and having a good ol' fashioned sing-along. The goal is to really feel like you and your family are on a trip. And nothing feels less like a vacation than running in and out of your house at the last second to tie up loose ends.

2. Use the grill instead of the barbecue. One of the greatest things about camping in your backyard is that things can be done on your own terms. Sure, it's kind of fun to rough it when you're out in the real wilderness, but come on, how much easier is it to fire up the ol' grill than to start an actual fire? It's one of the best things about camping at home: Convenience.

3. Tell a "group story". Instead of having each person tell their own ghost story, why not make one up together? While sitting in a circle, have each person say a few lines of a story before the person next to them takes over. The story will probably wind up being more funny than scary, but hey, isn't that more fun, anyway?

4. Set up a mini scavenger hunt in the yard. If you're camping with your little ones, they'll love it if you prepared a scavenger hunt for them in advance. During the day, hide a few things in the backyard and write down clues as to where they are. When it starts to get dark out, hand the kiddos flashlights and let them go wild.

5. Ditch any and all electronics. There are some things that are much more convenient about camping in the yard than heading out into the real wilderness, but iPhones and laptops shouldn't be among them. Make sure everyone leaves their phones, iPods, and computers inside. Camping should be about connecting with nature -- and connecting with each other.

Have you ever camped in your backyard?


Image via Photo Monkey/Flickr