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!