How to Camp Out in your Backyard

Bill Taylor
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Camping in the Backyard

Camping in your backyard can be a different experience than camping away from home. For one thing, you don’t have to worry about packing. Also, you have all your comforts of home right there with you.

Like any camping experience, you want to be able to fall asleep with ease, so you'll need a sleeping bag for the ground. If you're not worried about collecting nature sounds for the evening, why not get a sleeping bag in your team's colors? If you're worried about bugs, check out a mosquito net that attaches to your tent. And if it looks like rain – yes you'll want a tent, though you can always just get an inexpensive pop-up children's tent – you can get some extra protection from the underside of a tarp.

And speaking of nature, camping with your kids can be very hands-on and educational. As long as you keep an eye on them of course. But a few pointers to keep the kids entertained and safe:

Always have an emergency kit in your car for any situation, but especially for injuries. It’s good to keep it stocked with band aids, gauze, moleskin, pain reliever, tweezers, and safety pins.

Step 1: Plan Ahead

Selecting the best possible spot to set up your camp is essential. You need to ensure that it's sheltered from wind and weather. A good camping spot will keep out the rain so you can enjoy the stars. Look for a location that has a solid, sturdy ground and plenty of space for tents.

Tools and equipment for building your camp are also essential. Make sure you have the basics, including a hammer, saw, screwdriver, nails, screw-in hooks, metal stakes, and string or rope. Always take into consideration safety for you and anyone around you, and choose only tools that are safe for outdoor use.

Equipment that is essential for any group outing include a tent, a sleeping bag for each camper, a camp stove, a lantern, and a fire extinguisher. The basic camping flashlight is also a must. If you plan to go camping in colder months, make sure you have plenty of warm clothing including waterproof boots and gloves.

And don't forget the food!

Step 2: Get Your Food Together

When the first settlers came to this country, they brought only the barest minimum of what was necessary. Not enough to subsist for months, mind you, but just enough to start out on their own. Too often, we today wonder how they did it, and we don't even try. That's just not fair to ourselves.

You can remove the task of going to the grocery store from your to-do list of today. You don't have to bring in meat and milk every week and can survive quite nicely on canned food for a few weeks.

Have you ever gone on a road trip? Do you know how to cook on the go? When you camp where there is no modern conveniences, you'll need to do that. Be prepared and shoot a little water into your flame-free coffee maker to heat it up. You can cook on a propane stove (and have lighter fuel ready) and fry on a one-burner propane "stove."

Step 3: Build a Campfire

Burning the logs with the twigs is called a “backyard fire." When building the fire, you want to keep in mind:

You want to use oxygen. This is why you want to create an airspace between the logs. When you push the logs up against each other it creates enough pressure, pushing down on the coals below, not letting air in between. Start the fire on oxygen already by building the fire in a rings of logs with gaps around the logs.

Keep it small. The bigger your fire, the more oxygen you need to burn it, the bigger the fire gets, the more oxygen you need to burn it, etc. You end up wasting too much oxygen and it takes too long to build your fire high enough to burn the twigs and logs. So start with a small fire. Easier to push logs up against the logs below, easier to get fuel lit, easier to keep burning, easier to put out. Then, as the fire burns, the walls of logs keep the inner heat from escaping, causing the fire to burn hotter (increasing efficiency) and longer (helping you feel better about your resourcefulness).

Step 4: Gathering Supplies

You can start by gathering supplies to start up your camping in your backyard. Some of the supplies you can include are provided here.

  • A folding table
  • Bright colored garbage bags
  • Extra heavy-duty utility scissors
  • Shower curtains
  • Bungee cords
  • A roll of duct tape
  • Waterproof tarps
  • Sleeping bags
  • Pillows
  • Sleeping pads

Step 5: Setting Up

Once you have your supplies, your base of operations, and your survival kit, it is time to set up camp. This is the fun part of the whole experience. It is time to light your campfire, set up your tent, enjoy nature, and enjoy being away from it all.

Go with the flow as much as possible. All campsites are different and sites are sometimes picked at the last minute due to unexpected circumstances. If you get to your campground and find you do not have the best of campsites, know that you can still make it work and have a blast.

The first step is to find a place for the tent. A good rule of thumb is to have a flat area around the base of the tent. The flat area will offer some comfort for you to move around in, and also protects the tent from logs, sticks, and dirt.

As a general rule, try to pick a spot that is away from high traffic areas. A good habit to develop is scanning the campsites to see if someone else has been there before you. Look for small clues to see if someone else has set up camp in your planned area. Tall grass, unlevel ground, and broken branches are all signs to watch for.

Step 6: Figure Out Activities and Entertainment

Now that you have your tent, sleeping bag, and air mattress; you'll need some entertainment. What do you do when you're in your tent? For me, it's sleeping or writing my blog. So, go ahead and bring a binder of writing paper, a good book, or journal. You might know that you love to chat with your best friend, or your mom, or dad. So bring a cell phone, or a laptop.

If you're the girl that likes to apply makeup; you might want to bring a compact of your favorite lip gloss or mascara.

And of course, when you're outside in the woods, you're probably going to get dirty. So, save yourself the embarrassment by bringing a change of clothes with you. Or perhaps, you'll want to bring a roll of toilet paper because you'll be miles away from the bathrooms.

Step 7: Bedtime

At some point on your camping song, you'll be ready for the baby to sleep. If your baby is like most, they won't be tired for several hours, and you have no way of soothing a fussy baby except yourself. Bring a foldable stroller, and pack in everything the baby needs (a crib mattress, sheets, blankets, etc). If you don't bring the stroller, you can rest on the floor, since you have a sleeping bag and other gear you need.

Have plenty of toys available to keep the baby occupied. Sleep whenever the baby is ready. Hopefully through the day you've had some "shade time" where you've found a comfortable spot in the shade while the baby naps. The same is possible at night, especially in the summer; during the day the campsite is full of drippy-dry shadows.

Once the baby goes down, you can do the same, unless you have a toddler that stays up a bit longer. Don't even try to sleep if you don't want to; if you just have a couple hours of night left, use it to relax and enjoy the stars, or to read under the lanterns. If you want to chat, make a snack over your camp stove, or just enjoy some peace and quiet, you've earned it.

Step 8: The Next Morning

Start Preparations- this is now a routine for you:

  • fill the percolator with water
  • fill the base of the percs with coffee grounds
  • set the perc upright on the base
  • put the top of the percolator on
  • pour a little water in the top
  • wait for the coffee to start dripping through the coffee grounds

Once coffee starts dripping, pour more water in the top of the perc to make sure the water level is approximately even with the line inside the perc.

If the water level inside the pot is lower than the ground level outside, water will pour out the bottom of the percs and onto your fire. If the level of the water in the pot is too high, water will pour out the mouth of the perc and onto your fire.

If you don't’t have enough tinder, you'll have to fill more of the base with coffee grounds to the point you almost fill the bottom of the percs. Then, you fill the percs with a little bit of water, enough to activate the percs. You'll pour the rest of the water into the top of the percs evenly.


Camping in your backyard is a great way to try out some of that camping gear too. You can have fun with friends and family without having to travel too far; provide comfortable accommodations, a hot meal and a repetitive and fun routine without the need to set up camp in a less than ideal location.

Camping out in your backyard will give you time to clean and check your gear and prepare yourselves for an outdoor camping trip.

Camping in your backyard will motivate you to explore other types of camping.

It is a great way to try out some of that camping gear too.

Looking in the right places is important and very worthwhile. Camping in your backyard can be safe, fun and inexpensive.