We purchased a tent that sleeps five (one more than needed). We brought out our sleeping bags and small inflatable mattresses. We set up a small campfire. We got out the hotdogs, sausages, marshmallows, graham crackers, and chocolate bars. Most importantly, we brought a positive attitude.
How hard could it be? Our campsite was literally a few yards away from the back door.
Dinner went well. All foods were cooked to perfection over flame. The children most especially loved dessert (and watching a marshmallow or two incinerate). Excitement built as they prepared for bed. The night was clear and calm, with a waxing gibbous moon and plenty of stars (we even spotted the planet Venus).
We tucked the kids into their sleeping bags and told ghost stories. Mine was about a strange noise in the woods that turned out to be the kids' cousin. Nothing too scary.
We shut the tent's screens to keep the bugs out, and began our attempt to fall asleep in this environment, with crickets chirping, an owl hooting, and who knows what else.
One hour in, and my wife and I didn't feel like we were on an air mattress anymore (even though it was right below us). As it turned out, I did not put the cap back on properly and air slowly seeped out. We had descended to the hard earth, and it was too late to try and pump the mattress back up. Already our backs were starting to hurt.
Whoever said sleeping on a flat surface is good for posture must not have ever actually experienced a night lying on the ground. My wife bailed at 2:30am and went back inside. My children remained fast asleep on their respective mattresses. It was a long night for me.
The worst night of sleep in months.
Our plan is to move the campsite further into the backyard next time. And make sure the air mattress is properly capped.