I used to always consider backyard camping a complete joke. Then, I found myself with no other choice if I still wanted to try and squeeze in some sort of camping despite too many binding weekend social engagements, a 20-month-old, and all the aches, pains, and other nuances that come with being 6 months pregnant. My husband and I realized it was camping in the backyard or not at all. We opted to eat crow and make the most of an activity we’d scoffed at throughout our responsibility-free early 20s. And to our surprise, we had fun and – so long as we didn’t look at the house too often – it sometimes feel like ‘real’ camping. Here are some recommendations of making backyard camping fun, based on our successes and mistakes.
Face the tent away from the house. If every time you get in and out of the tent, you’re looking at your house, it’s kind of hard to forget you’re only a stone’s throw away. It’s also that much more tempting to ‘cheat’ and go inside for something (or to sneak a peak at your email).
Avoid electronics. Bring out snacks, cards, and travel board games just as you would on a normal camping trip. One of the biggest advantages of camping is that is gets you unplugged, talking, and interacting more with your loved ones. Don’t cheat yourself out of that part of the experience.
S’mores are a must. A fire pit is best, but if you don’t have one and can’t borrow you’re neighbor’s, a grill will work. Charcoal is preferred over propane. If a grill is still on your wish list, your stove will work. If you only have a flattop stove an can’t toast the mallow without touching the stovetop, just give up and make a s’more with an uncooked marshmallow. For goodness sakes, it’ll still taste good enough, and it’s better than having to deal with cleaning a stovetop the next day.
Peeing in your backyard is fine. Pooping…is worth cheating and using the house toilet.
Stargaze. Set your sleeping bags out on the lawn or lean back in your camping chairs and spend some time looking up. Although the stars are there for us every night, how often do we forget to marvel at them?
Blow-Up Mattresses equal fun. Not for the reason you’re probably thinking. If you have kids, these are basically camping’s version of a trampoline.
Silence. Take some time to enjoy the sounds of nature. Although we often associate ‘nature’ with the woods or scenic mountain trails, nature is actually all around us all the time. Close your eyes and enjoy the gentle rustle of the breeze, the various animal and insect sounds, and – if you have to – pretend the cars rushing by are just a large river nearby.
Tell Stories – Whether they are the, “Did I ever tell you about the time I…..” kind or made up spooky stories for the kids, storytelling is an time-tested human bonding experience.
Take a ‘Hike’. If you’re lucky enough to live within walking distance of a park, head on over. If not, just take a scenic walk around your own neighborhood. How often do you actually walk around your own hood with your only intention being to spot and admire the natural landscape and ‘wildlife’? You may surprise yourself with what you’ve never noticed before.Take pictures. Sometimes things that aren’t at all what you originally planned end up being the best memories. Remember to capture the good, the bad, and the not-quite-hardcore moments of your ‘backyard camping’ adventure on film. It just may make you smile in the future.
No one here is trying to say backyard camping is the same as camping in the woods or mountains, but if it’s all you can do for one good reason or another, it can certainly still be fun.