It’s time to make camping at home a regular ‘outing’

By Australian Geographic 25 March 2020
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Grab your couch pillows, sheets and snacks and let’s go camping… at home.

Everyone knows that watching a movie and eating ice cream in a fort of your own making is 10 times better than doing those things on the couch (without a fort). And given we’ve all been asked to remain indoors for the foreseeable future due to the spread of COVID-19, it’s about time we do this a lot more often. 

If your favourite childhood memories involve crawling through couch pillow fortresses and spending your Friday nights in your backyard in a tent with your portable DVD player, rainbow popcorn and creaming soda, you know there’s a formula to the perfect home camping set up. 

The first and most important element is a ridiculous amount of junk food that would otherwise be unacceptable in everyday life. I’m talking pink everything, with visible sugar crystals and tubs of ice cream (and don’t even think about getting bowls out – spoons only) and for hygiene reasons that means everyone gets their own tub.

Related: Now is the perfect time to enjoy the night sky from the comfort of your home

Camping indoors

Now that we’ve got that sorted, let’s move to your indoor set up. If you want to reduce the labour, you can always just set up a small tent and decorate accordingly. Alternatively, grab a volley of chairs, pegs, string and your mother’s most prized sheets and get to work. Spooky entrances are key and are easy to construct with two chairs and a dark coloured sheet (head torch optional).  

That entrance then needs to lead to your communal area, where you can sleep, watch Harry Potter and eat. Now, this needs a bit of light, but not too much, so fairy lights are ideal, but Christmas lights are also acceptable. For optimal enjoyment, pack this space out with the softest pillows and cuddliest toys.

Quick tip: If you can build your fort close to a window, it means you’ll also get to stargaze, after binge-watching movies. If you have a telescope, try to make room for it in your fort, but there’s also lots to see with the naked eye. With the planets shining brightly at this time of year, and meteor showers and comets expected in the next few months, this will make your indoor camping experience one of a kind. 

Outdoor camping

Now there’s really simple ways to do outdoor camping; for example, sleeping on your trampoline in your warmest sleeping bag is always fun, and then there’s the tent option, which means the mozzies won’t get in the way of your plans. And you don’t need an extravagant tent either. Remember if something goes wrong, the weather for example, you can retreat indoors.

Choosing to camp outdoors means you have an unlimited choice of activities. You can go backyard birdwatching, stargaze, have a big BBQ, and my personal favourite, set up an outdoor cinema! All you need is a projector, some rope and a white sheet, and you can position your tent so you’re directly facing the ‘screen’.  

A few key things you’ll need to survive the night camping in your backyard includes a torch or a mini lantern, an overshade (or just make sure your tent isn’t directly in the sun), and of course water and snacks (best kept in a small esky).

The better prepared you are the more authentic your experience will be. It’s also a good idea to use your backyard camping adventure to ‘turn off’, that is, leave your phones and computers indoors and try to pretend that your house isn’t there. Make sure you have everything you need and let the fun begin.