Thursday, April 18, 2013

Camping Out in the Backyard

Last weekend our dear friends C. and M. and their kids came over and camped out in our backyard with us. We had a blast. When you have small children it can be hard to get quality time with friends because the kids usually need to go to bed right as the adult conversation is getting good. Camping is a wonderful solution to that problem! Mr. Chanclas and I both like to camp out but we hardly ever do it. We are more camping followers- we need someone else to lead the charge. But I have realized that while organizing a camping trip for a family of five at a campground can feel overwhelming (even impossible at times), a camping trip in the backyard is perfectly do-able. I think my favorite part is the lack of planning necessary for backyard campouts.

Earlier this spring, after I failed to organize a promised spring break camp out, we invited our dear friends Justin and Sarah over for a backyard camping expedition. We had so much fun and the kids slept surprisingly well despite the fact that the roosters started crowing at 4:45am. We ended the festivities with a front porch haircut (Justin's) and a lot of great memories but very few photographs (oops- I'm trying to take more photos). So this time around, with C. and M. and family, I remembered to get my camera out.

Setting up the tents in the backyard
Our friends brought dinner fixings and we made hamburgers on the grill. That was easy and delicious. Then we set up the tents out back and fixed up our fire pit in a clearing. There was a pile of old bricks and a pile of sand out there from who-knows-what old project so we used those to make a fire pit. Thankfully we have had some rain recently so we were not under a burn ban (the drought in Texas has meant open fires are banned most of the time). I always forget how magical a fire feels. There really is nothing quite like sitting around a fire with people whose company you enjoy. Of course, we made s'mores.

The kids got tired and went to bed at about 10pm and the adults stayed up talking, knowing our kids were sleeping just a few yards away. It was great. I didn't have to pack the car with sleeping bags or food or pillows or anything. I just dragged a few sleeping bags and a couple of quilts out of the house and we were good to go.

We all slept pretty well despite the fact that the roosters started up at their usual time of about 4:45am. I think maybe C. wanted to strangle Floyd, who is the largest and loudest rooster. We got up and decided another fire was in order so we sat around the fire drinking coffee and eating eggs and homemade sausage (which we conveniently cooked in the kitchen). Not a bad way to start the day!

"Mama, the sky is moving!"
The point of me blogging about this is because it was such a fun and easy way to grow community. It is really important to me to feel a sense of community- it really helps me to feel like a happy and well-rounded person- and so I am always looking for opportunities to experience that. I want my children to be part of a larger community because I know the time will come when they need to look for guidance and mentors outside our nuclear family. They (and we) need to connect with friends and other family members and feel ourselves as part of a bigger community.

The backyard camp out doesn't cost anything and it doesn't require much advance planning or special gear. You need a tent unless you want to sleep under the stars. Sleeping bags are handy but you could just as easily use comforters and blankets from the house. If you have a fire you need a few sticks or logs but those can frequently be had for free (as ours were). The only thing you need to budget for is graham crackers, chocolate bars, and marshmallows, because you absolutely cannot have a camp fire without s'mores.


  1. I love the way you talk about the importance of Community. Yes. This, exactly.

  2. I have really been pondering trying this in our own yard - not just camping out, but having friends over to camp out in our yard with us. Though I've spent many nights in the back country myself and as a camp counselor with other people's (super-adventurous) kids, now that I have my own two toddlers I am daunted by the idea of a whole night in a tent, let alone car camping. It is really cool and encouraging to see someone else just do it! It looks so fun! I just found my way here from Beth Berry's blog and am a fellow Texan (though I moved to the southeast a long time ago). I'm looking forward to reading through your older posts for more inspiration.

  3. Adah, nice to have you here! I was daunted by the car camping, too, and I wasn't really sure how well the all-night-in-a-tent would go for my 3 year old. She did great both times, though, and it gave me the confidence to plan for some away-from-home camping trips. Maybe you could try a night in the tent with just your family and if it goes well you could invite friends next time. The great thing about being at home is you can just go inside and crawl into your bed if you need to!

    1. OK, this is now officially a summer goal (I don't actually have a list of summer goals, but maybe I'll start one . . .). We are going to sleep in the yard at least once! Awesome. Thanks!

  4. Karen, we'd love to have y'all camp with us anytime! We'll get the Corricks to shlep down too!

    Is that Sarah and Justin of Max and Olive?!

    We're going to do this!! We camp in the yard ourselves but it never damn occurred to me to invite another family!

    Finn is scared to sleep alone so he's not ready for friends to sleep alone out there with but I cant wait for that!

  5. Yes, that's the Sarah and Justin! I would love to hear how it goes if you guys try the backyard camp out.

  6. are you ready for some more camping this weekend?

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