Backyard camping is a timeless experience, but it is also a lengthy process. Hours of time are spent setting up the tent, blowing up the air mattress and gathering all the pillows and sleeping bags for just one night under the stars. Luckily, one new Twin Cities business, Pitched Mpls., is bringing a glitzy and glamorous camping experience right to your backyard.
Kenny Young, a transplant from southern California, made the trek to Minnesota to attend North Central University, where he met his wife Autumn. In November 2019, Young, deciding to take time away from his corporate career in ballet, was thinking about starting his own business venture allowing him to spend more time with Autumn and their children.
“I kept asking myself, ‘What kind of business?’” Young says. “I’m an enneagram eight, so I’m fueled by mission and purpose … I was thinking, ‘How can I get families together? How can I make quality time easy, accessible and different?’”
Drawing from his personal background, as well as his love for nature, Young decided to bring backyard camping to people’s homes, but with a twist. “In the development stage, my wife and I thought, ‘Anyone could have a Coleman tent’ … What if we took it to the next level?” he says.
Young officially formulated the glamping experience, Pitched Mpls., on March 7, 2020—just a mere six days before the first COVID shutdown. But that didn’t stop Pitched Mpls.
“We deliver the complete glamping experience to backyards,” Young says. Each experience is complete with a weather-proof canvas tent that can withstand rain, snow and even hail; plus, he provides comfort items, such as rugs, chairs and a memory foam bed. There are also add-on items, including an in-tent movie theater—popular for a movie night under the stars, according to Young—or a picnic table with floor pillow seating.
Though Young did not rent out any tents until April, he says the business took off from there. “In April, we rented one tent. May had two tents. June had three tents. July had four tents,” he says. “Every weekend we were booked. I had to create a waitlist.”
For Ryan and Kristin Rivard, date night does not come easy. Kristin says, “We have four kids … Which makes it difficult to get away long enough for a simple conversation, much less dinner and a movie.”
So, Ryan called Young with Pitched Mpls. and Kristin called the grandparents. Since Young sets everything up, from the tent to the movie screen and projector, the Rivards could enjoy an evening without having to lift a finger.
“We got take-out, talked and enjoyed an old classic film like we did in our pre-kid days,” Kristin says. “Except this time our tent had some pretty rad accommodations, unlike the camping we did in our 20s on a bed of sticks and rocks.”
Kristin adds, “The best part was we literally didn’t have to do anything … So dreamy!”
And though the Pitched backyard glamping experience was a hit, it wasn’t plausible for the colder weather. “In theory, you could sleep in these tents when it’s zero degrees outside,” Young says. “But we thought, ‘What if we brought a tent experience inside?’”
Young and his team decided to focus on bringing the camping experience to younger kids and developed the Pitched Tiny Tents experience. Clients can choose to have two to six tents, all of which come with a memory foam twin bed, linens, themed décor, pillows, string lighting and a bedside table. The experience also includes a Pitched mug, North Mallow cocoa and an eye mask for keeping, and a customizable letter board for the event. Add-ons include an instant print camera and film, or the popular in-tent theater.
“It’s much more for sleepovers, birthday parties or fun things with grandma,” Young says. The team focused on the younger ages with the idea of “graduating to the big tents,” he says.
“The minute I say I am done with the tents, I can hear little kids screaming out of excitement. It’s so cool,” Young says. “And that’s really the focus. I’m creating something that isn’t just a product, it’s an experience for kids and families.”
Woodbury resident Betsy C. booked Pitched to celebrate her daughter’s 9th—and her golden— birthday. She says, “Kenny’s customer service was prompt, flexible, accommodating and super friendly.”
“He goes above and beyond to make this special, regardless of the occasion,” Betsy says. “[And] he is the nicest guy I’ve met.”
Though Young started the business with Autumn, himself and four tents, Pitched has transformed into a one-of-a-kind experience with an entire team dedicated to providing backyard or in-home events. Now the team includes a Tiny Tents coordinator, part-time employees and seven tents—though Young plans to get more tents so there is no waitlist for the season.
“Through this business I’m able to serve people,” Young says. “It has been a really cool and fulfilling experience. It keeps me motivated every day.”