Sleeping outdoors under the moonlit sky in your backyard is a fun event. This is especially fun for children. While fun, it can also be overwhelming. There are so many things to plan to make sure it goes off well and really feels like you are camping.
As a child, I camped in the backyard quite a few times. Sometimes it went well and other times not so well. I remember one time we tried to sleep in the yard in a make shift tent. It started to rain and we got washed out.
In this article, I'm going to describe all of the steps and supplies you need to make sure your camping trip in the backyard is a good one.
Choose a good night
The first step is to pick a good night to camp out in your backyard. Many times people will decide to camp out on the spur of the moment. This can be fun and exciting, but can also lead to a disaster.
Taking a little time to plan ahead and look at the weather can help you trip into the yard go well.
You will need to consider a few things about the weather when deciding on the right night for your trip.
First, you want a dry night. Rain is not the best weather for camping out. It makes it hard to go outside to get supplies. It also makes it impossible to have a fire burning. Heavy rain can cause flooding in your tent. Finally, lightening can be dangerous even inside a tent.
Second, you need to pay attention to the temperature. If it is too cold out, you may not be able to stay warm in your tent. Having the right type of clothes and sleeping bag can help you bear extreme cold, but if your equipment is not that good or you are inexperienced, you could freeze. You also have to make sure it isn't going to snow.
If it is very hot outside, the heat could be unbearable. Also, hot temperatures can lead to exhaustion. High humidity can also make your campers miserable.
Choose a good spot
After picking the right night, you need to scope out a spot in your yard for your camp site. Consider these when choosing your camp ground:
- Bug free
- High ground
- Dry and firm ground
- No roots
- Under a strong tree (good or bad)
- Good view
Bugs can me a real nuisance when you are camping. Mosquitoes love to hang out in certain bushes and other foliage. Other types of bugs also like bushes. It is best to make your campsite with a little bit of distance from any bushes.
You want to avoid ants at all cost. Red ants can be the most detrimental to your outing. Search the ground for ant hills or other types of nest. The last thing you want to do is wake up with ants in your tent. Also, don't leave food open. And don't throw scraps of food on the ground. Even if there are no visible signs of ant nest, they will find food that is left out.
High ground is preferable to low ground. If you've chosen the perfect night, you may not need to worry about how high the ground is for your campsite. But, if there is a potential for rain, a high spot can save you from getting washed out.
If your backyard is level, then the height of the ground won't matter.
Dry and firm ground
The ground should also be dry and firm, but not too hard. If you make your campsite on ground that is moist or very soft, you will end up with slope under your feet after walking around for a while. This will cause mud to get all over your things and into your tent.
Make sure there are no roots in your camping site. Especially look for roots where you are going to setup your tent. Trying to sleep on top of roots is very uncomfortable.
Under a strong tree (good or bad)
Setting up your site under a tree can be good for getting shade. You have to watch out for certain types of pest that like to descend from trees like caterpillars and spiders. Roots can be a problem under a tree.
You will want to situate your campsite to allow for a good view of your surroundings and of the sky.
When sleeping outside, you need shelter from the elements. A good tent will help to protect your from insects and other pests. It will also keep you dry if it starts to rain. In addition, it acts as a wind breaker and an insulator.
If the night your are camping out in your backyard is cold, dry, and bug free, you can sleep in the open air or under a make shift tent.
A make shift tent is easy to make. You just need a rope and a tarp or cloth material for the top. If you use cloth, it should be waterproof in case it rains. To make your tent, tie your rope between two trees or poles. Then drape your tarp or cloth over the rope. Finally, place rocks on the bottom of your covering or use stakes and rope to secure your shelter from flying away.
In either case, it would be beneficial to lay down a tarp or some plastic under your sleeping area to act as a barrier to bugs and moisture.
You need to be able to see when it gets dark around your camp site and if you need to venture away from it. Good, dependable lights are necessary.
In the past, you would have had to stock up on big bulky flashlights with large C and D batteries. You may still have some of these types of flashlights lying around. I would suggest getting rid of those old flashlights.
Today, you can buy small to medium size led flashlights for a few dollars each. These flashlights usually take one to three AAA batteries and will last a long time.
You can also get LED lanterns and other camp style lighting that is very efficient on batteries.
Get a few extra flashlights in case some stop working. Also, don't forget to bring extra batteries with you.
The camp fire is the center of you camp site. Safety should be your number one priority when it comes to your camp fire.
Your camp fire should be at least ten feet from your tent and any other objects that can catch fire. If you live in a residential area, there will be strict rules as to how and where you can make a fire. You will need to find out what the local ordinances are for making a fire in your backyard.
To prepare your fire site, clear all debris and high grass from the ground. If your are allowed to make an open fire on the ground in your area, then you can stack your fire wood in a teepee style and light it. If you can't have an open fire, then you will need a fire pit with a screen.
Before you start, gather small twigs, small sticks, pine needles, leaves, medium sticks, and larger pieces of wood. This will prevent your from having to go looking for them later. Never leave your fire unattended. Keep water close by to extinguish the fire.
If you plan on cooking over your fire with grease, keep sand near the fire in case of a grease fire. A portable fire extinguisher is also a good idea.
Food is one of the best parts of camping out. It might even be the best part.
Snack style foods like trail mix, chips, and fruit are a must. You also need a good meal or two while you are spending the night in your yard.
A good ice chest will help to preserve your meat, eggs, mayonnaise, and other perishables from spoiling.
To cook your food you will need a cooking rack and some camping pots and pans. If you don't want to go to all of that trouble, you can use roasting forks and baskets.
You definitely want to pick up some marshmallows for roasting over your fire. Good marshmallow roasting sticks or skewers will come in handy.
There are many different types of sleeping bags. Some of your children may have one that they use to sleep on the floor in your house.
The most important thing about your sleeping bags, is to know what temperature they are rated for. Just because it looks warm, doesn't mean it will keep you warm if the temperature gets to low.
Spend the time and money to get sleeping bags that are rated for the environment you will sleeping in.
Variations on camping in your yard
You can camp out in your backyard for fun on any night. But, you may also like to do it on special occasions. Throwing a scavenger hunt camping party can be fun. You could invite guest over for a long night of scavenger hunting. Then enjoy time around the campfire roasting marshmallows and telling stories.
Another variation is to throw a camping birthday party in your backyard. Instead of having a traditional birthday party, you could make it a very memorable one sleeping under the stars.
Bringing it all together
Start by planning and preparing. This will save you a lot of time and headaches once your are camping in your backyard. Choose a good spot for your campsite so that your tent, camp fire, and campers are in the most beneficial locations.
Make sure to get a good tent and lights. Bring plenty of food. Don't skimp on your sleeping bags. Most of all, enjoy camping in your backyard with your family and friends.