Camping at home isn’t just for kids! Although it is a a great family activity, it can be fun for anybody. Want to try out new camping gear? Camp at home. Are you a newbie to camping? Practice by camping at home. Can’t afford to go to a campground? Save money by camping at home. And if the campgrounds are closed – camp at home. You may feel silly at first, but who cares if it is crazy – it can still be fun to pitch a tent in your yard (or living room!) for your adventure at home.
Read on for my how to’s and tips to rock your camping at home adventure.
Choose Your Camping Location at Home
Ok, I know your options may be pretty limited unless you have access to a lot of land. Camping in your backyard is the obvious choice for most people. Even if your yard is small, you can usually find room to pitch a tent.
If you camp outside, look for a level spot in your yard or a cleared area in the woods behind your home. If you’ll will be camping in your house, choose a room big enough for your tent. You may have to move some furniture around to create enough space.
If you don’t have a yard or want to keep the kiddos (or yourself) inside due to the weather, you can camp in any room big enough for your tent. I’ll be honest – I thought only kids would be happy camping inside, but I have been surprised by the number of adults I have seen in Facebook groups that put their tents up in their home.
Have you ever spent the night in your camper at home? Camp in your driveway or where ever you park your RV at home.
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Prepare Your Camping Shelter
If you need to purchase a tent, any tent will work as a backyard camping tent. Choose just like you would for any camping trip. ( Check out my post The Best Tent Buying Guide for my suggestions and tent buying advice.) This is my top pick for beginner campers.
If you don’t own a tent and don’t want to buy one, you can make a shelter by stringing a rope or clothesline between two trees and throwing a tarp over that. Be sure to stake the corners of the tarp out and put another tarp down on the ground to stay dry. You can really get creative and make your own shelter for a survivalist camping adventure.
Hammock camping is really easy as long as you have trees in your yard or even a traditional backyard hammock. Some campers never want to sleep on the ground again after sleeping in a hammock.
If you are going to be camping inside your home, you’ll want a tent that is free standing and doesn’t require staking to remain upright. If you don’t want to put a tent up in your house, create your own hideout by draping a sheet over a table or four chairs and sleep underneath it. Or you can just toss sleeping bags in the living room floor.
Gather Bedding for Camping at Home
Even though sleeping bags make your camping at home adventure seem more like the real thing, blankets work too.
If you need to purchase sleeping bags, traditional sleeping bags are fine and kids still like the novelty character themed ones. If you are planning on camping more, I would invest in good sleeping bags that aren’t as bulky. Choose a sleeping bag that is best for the weather you will camping in the majority of the time. Some sleeping bags are not rated for cold weather. If you ever plan on backpacking, get a sleeping bag that is lightweight and packs smaller.
Don’t want to sleep on the ground? Invest in a sleeping pad, air mattress, or cot. Sleeping pads are small and easy to store and lightweight ones are great for backpacking, but may not be as comfortable as an air mattress. Some people prefer cots as they get you further off the ground.
If you aren’t ready to purchase a pad, mattress or cot, you can use extra blankets, old comforters, pillows, or even yoga mats to make your sleeping area a little softer.
Light Your Campsite and Create a Camping Vibe
Be sure to take your flashlights and lanterns out with you. You may need to make a middle of the night bathroom run, plus the kids like playing with them!
I have never put string lights out at a campsite, but it can be a cool, glamping addition to your campsite at home. It is common at RV campgrounds and lights are often strung on camper awnings. You can buy cute camping themed lights, patio lights, or even use white Christmas lights to do this. String them on your tent, on some trees, or use four posts to define your campsite.
Do you want a little bit of light around the exterior of your campsite? Use affordable solar lights.
If you have any large logs, you can place those around the campfire for seats or use some comfortable camping chairs or patio chairs.
Make a Campfire at Home
Everybody loves a campfire. Unless a breeze is blowing and the smoke keeps “following” you! Campfires have a way of drawing everyone together. You can cook over them, roast marshmallows, tell stories, or just be mesmerized by the flames.
Meal and Snacks for Camping at Home
Fully immerse yourself into your camping at home adventure and prepare your camping meals and snacks outside. Bring the cooler and the food to your backyard campsite.
You can keep it easy and cook on your grill. Better yet, cook over your campfire. Hot dogs or smoked sausages on a roasting stick are super easy as are meals prepared in foil packs. You could also try some fun pie iron cooking.
I love dutch oven cooking! One pot meals are easy and delicious. You can cook any meal of the day in your dutch oven, plus desserts too. Don’t miss these posts if you are looking for dutch oven dinner recipes and a camping dutch oven.
Roasted marshmallows, s’mores, campfire cones, and popcorn over the fire are great snacks. We also love fresh fruit like watermelon.
If you are camping indoors, make s’mores over tea candles.
Camping Games and Activities
Worried about getting bored sitting in your backyard? Play some games or take the time to relax.
Practice outdoor skills. Even though you aren’t at a campground or in the backcountry, you can still hone your outdoor skills. Practice building fires, tying knots, reading a compass, and making shelters.
Go on a nature/scavenger hunt in your backyard.
Make crafts. Create bird houses, make a walking stick or paint rocks that you gathered from your yard or bought at the store.
Play hide n’ seek in the dark. Teens and adults like this as much or more than the kids!
Play checkers or a camping themed game.
Play corn hole or horseshoes.
Read a book or write and draw in a journal. Take advantage of the quiet time away from TV and chores of the house.
Catch fire flies.
Tell stories and sing songs around the campfire.
Have a devotion around the campfire. It is the perfect time to reflect on what God is doing in your life.
Study the night skies. There are several space watching and astronomy apps available.
Final Thoughts on Camping at Home
Experienced campers may really feel weird camping at home and already have much of the gear I mentioned. Give it a try anyway! Even experienced campers buy new gear, and this is a good time to get the hang of that new backpacking stove or tent.
If you have never camped before, camping at home is the perfect way to give it a try. If you don’t have camping gear, improvise as best you can with what you have and have fun. Connect with your spouse, your kids, your friends, or enjoy a solitary night camping at home.
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Related Camping Post:The Best Toys and Activities to Entertain Kids When Camping