Backyard Camping- Preparing For Camping Or Failure

Many people start their camping adventures in their own backyards.  Of course, I can see why.  Backyard camping is a quick and easy way to introduce camping to kids without all the commitment of actual camping.

Starts to rain– go back inside your house.

Too cold– go inside.

Too hot– go inside.

When you don’t have as much commitment, you may not experience all the rewards of camping.  You feel quite proud of yourself when you setup and maintain a campsite.  When you get through a night of tent camping in the rain, you feel like a real adventurer.

And this may sound funny, but nothing prepares you for camping at a campsite, like camping at a campsite.  It is fun to sleep in a tent in the backyard, but you don’t learn a lot about camping until you remove some of the safety nets.

To me backyard camping prepares you for actual camping about as much as dating prepares you for marriage.

Dating is all about looking your best, saying the right thing, impressing the other person and making out.  Marriage with kids is filled with days of sickness (puke), babies (poop) and finances (puke again).  If you have time and want to after all the puke, you can still make out.  In spite of those things, I love my marriage and my family and wouldn’t change my life for the world.

The same is true for camping.  Camping is a lot different when you have to make a checklist of supplies you will need and food you will eat.  Of course, you can still make out if you want.

For example, last time we went camping we met a young family who had been camping in their backyard.  This was their first time camping in a tent at a campgrounds.  They brought 1 flashlight for a family of 5 and no lanterns.  I don’t know how many sleeping bags (or quality) they brought with them but the mom told me that they got cold during the night and unzipped the sleeping bags so they could put the sleeping bags on top of them and slept on the tent floor.  They didn’t have a mat under the tent.  I can’t imagine sleeping directly on the tent floor with all the sharp little rocks at that campground.

The mom was also amazed that we were tent campers, yet we were having pancakes and bacon for breakfast.  So I showed her our outdoor kitchen, complete with a propane griddle and propane camping stove.  I’m glad I had the chance to visit with her.  Those are the types of campers who may never go camping again because they are unprepared and therefore, miserable.

So if you have been camping in your backyard and you’re ready for some real fun, find a camping checklist and a good camping website (ah- umm) and get prepared.  And when you are at the campgrounds talk to the other campers and learn from them as well.  Because while backyard camping may be fun, camping at a campgrounds will open up a whole new world of possibilities to you and your family.

I’ll see ya around the campfire!


Photo credit:  Mum Inspects the Tent By Caitlin

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Tiffany loves tent camping and knows how to bait a hook.

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  1. I liked setting up the tent in the backyard, just so I could see if I had everything I needed to set up the tent! Tent poles (check) Tent stakes (check) Rain Sheild (check) Rubber Mallet for the stakes ….

    Squeak – The Alaskan Bookie
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    • Kind of like a visual checklist. I guess if you have never setup your tent before, you could practice before you get to the campsite. That’s pretty cool.

  2. So would having someone else plan your camping trip for you be kind of like an arranged marriage?

    I completely understand what you’re saying. It comes down to motivation and seriousness. When I was a kid we had 5 acres to play around with and we’d spend several nights at a time in the back of our property. That was just because my Dad worked and couldn’t take us out as much as we wanted. We wanted to be outside and weren’t interested in bailing out. In fact, my parents would lock the house up at night!
    PaulO recently posted..DIY: Winter Projects – Helle KnivesMy Profile

    • Arranged marriage– I like that!

      Sounds like ya’ll had a fun childhood. We never camped out in our yard as kids, but we spent a lot of time building forts.

  3. Wonderful post! I can relate to all of it: dating, marriage, backyard camping, unprepared campground camping, and prepared campground camping. Being prepared is much more fun!
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  4. When I was little my dad would always set the tent up in the yard before (and after) camping trips to “air it out”. It was a big musty-smelling cabin-shaped green-and-orange canvas tent and so frequently needed it.

    On days when Dad would be airing out the tent like that, my brothers and I would camp out in the tent. Sometimes I would invite a friend over to camp out with us. To this day she gets all sentimental and misty thinking of those times and that tent.

    I have promised my children (ages 5 and almost 8) for a few years now we would camp out in the yard and something always keeps it from happening–sometime “real” camping trips get in the way. I definitely think I need to do it this summer.

    That said, we have always been experienced “real” campers–my parents took me camping from infancy and I have done the same with my girls–so camping in the back yard wasn’t preparation so much as additional fun.

    When friends asked me for advice on camping the first time, I did suggest they “practice” in the back yard, mostly to practice setting up the tent and to get the kids excited. But my main recommendation was that they go camping at a state park close to home (30 minutes or so) and stay in the campground. That way if disaster really strikes, they don’t have to drive to far to “give it up.” They tried it and found that when things weren’t going well for them just knowing they *could* pack it up and go home easily somehow made them stay. Go figure.

    • Campy Mom says:

      I love your story about airing out the tent! What great memories those must be. And I definitely agree. For first time campers, staying in a state park close to home is just the right amount of safety net (in my opinion). I would also recommend that first time campers start with a short trip, like a weekend camping trip. Give them time to build their camping confidence :)

  5. BandannaMan says:

    Good post! Learning how to make do with what you have or what you can improvise on a camping trip is partly what camping is all about. Heck, it’s a life lesson as well that you can take with you and your family on life’s hike.

  6. As kids we loved camping in the backyard. We’d spend the whole summer out in the tent. It did get us outside a lot but it wasn’t camping though since my parents didn’t camp it was the closest we got as kids.

    You’re so right about being prepared – being miserable is not on my list of things to do. I love your propane griddle. I have to say that your setup is a lot more elaborate than ours. We have a small propane bbq which we use if there’s a fire ban while we’re car camping, otherwise everything is over the campfire or using the small backcountry stove but pancakes and bacon have been served up on a regular basis. I can’t wait for camping season!
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  7. We have had a few camping trips in our backyard (though they are dwindling as we become more experienced). It was a good way to try out one a new camping purchase before we headed out bush. The last backyard camping adventure, my daughter grabbed her pillow and headed inside by 10pm as she could not bear her father’s snoring!

    All I could say to her was “welcome to my world baby”.

    From that day on, when we are in the smaller summer tents, she sleeps in my tent, away from “noisy daddy”.

    Happy Camping (minus the snorers)
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