It’s officially fall. The weather is cooling off and the leaves are changing. It’s football season. We’ll be collecting candy and feasting on turkey in no time at all. One often over looked aspect that autumn has to offer is the near-perfect climate for camping. And, if you don’t have a nearby campground to go to, look no further. It’s time to give backyard camping a try. It’s free, convenient, and fun. It’s also a great way to spend some valuable time disconnecting from your devices and connecting with our family. Here’s what you’ll need to get the family together to create some memories.
A basic tent will do just fine here. No need to spring for a huge cabin tent unless you want to venture into more glamorous camping, or “glamping”. Get a basic tent that has good ventilation, enough room for your whole family, and decent water resistance in case you get a fall shower. One of our favorite tent manufactures is Columbia. These tents are affordable and available at most Dick's Sporting Goods stores and Cabela's. Columbia tents have innovations such as glow-in-the-dark zippers, ports for power cords, easy assembly, and ample storage pockets and shelves. Some of their tents have full screen tops, which make for great star gazing on a clear dry night.
Get everyone their own sleeping bags that’ll be warm enough to be comfy through the night. Sleeping bags are often temperature rated so you should have no problem finding the right one for your climate. If your kids are big into sleepovers we recommend getting one that comes with its own storage bag for easy transportation. There’s nothing quite as frustrating as a sleeping bag coming unrolled when you have your arms full of stuff. We recommend Coleman. Their bags roll up nicely. They’re light, warm, have expandable zippers for those of us with broad shoulders, and even a Velcro holder for glasses. If you’re a snuggle bunny you can connect two of their bags to make a giant sleeping bag. Don’t forget a comfy pillow too. For those of you with back issues you may want to consider an air mattress or sleeping pad.
A nice fire will provide light, warmth, and a great place to have conversations with the family. You can tell stories, cook hot dogs and pita pockets, and roast marshmallows for s’mores. If you don’t have a fire pit you can grab one from your local hardware store for a few bucks. They have copper bowl types and very popular bonfire units with a cage and cover. Get the one that’s right for you and it’ll provide hours of entertainment for your family and the neighbors that love to pop in for a cold beer. Don’t forget to get some starter logs or newspaper, kindling, and wood. Oak smells great and burns slow. Keep a good poker stick to turn the logs over when it dies down. We recommend a wind-proof Aim-‘N-Flame to start your fire. Roasting sticks can either be cut from a tree or shrub, or you can buy either wood or metal sticks. Keep your fire a safe distance from anything flammable and leave your hose nearby just in case.
They’re quite easy. Graham crackers, Hershey’s chocolate, and large marshmallows. Roast the marshmallow above the flame, turning steadily until it’s golden brown all the way around. Break up the graham crackers so they match the size of the chocolate create a “sandwich” by placing the chocolate between two pieces of graham cracker. Use this “sandwich” to pull the marshmallow off of your roasting stick. Be careful! It’ll be hot and sticky.
Since you’re camping in your backyard, we’ll just assume you can run into the house to take care of any bathroom duties. Bring LED flashlights for the whole family. Shadow puppet shows are always a good time. A deck of cards, an umbrella, classic board games, Oreo cookies, and sparklers are some of our other recommended items. Most importantly, perhaps, is your camera. Capture as many goofy memories as you can and then share them with others.