Summer is for camping

Tips for making the most of a backyard camping adventure.

For lots of Americans, camping is synonymous with summer. Whether pitching a tent near a beautiful waterway or heading to a cabin in the mountains, it’s a time when many of us embrace the inspiring beauty and serenity of the outdoors.

However, this summer, the pathway to nature will likely look a little different for people across the country because of the coronavirus pandemic. Many parks and overnight camps are closed, and campgrounds that are open are operating at limited capacity.

That reality shouldn’t deter us from connecting with the natural world. By thinking outside of the box we can bring the campsite to us. A pillow fort in your apartment, a tent in your living room, or curling up under the stars in your backyard all make great places to camp. 

With that in mind, here are some tips for setting up your living room or backyard camping adventure.

Tip #1: Set up your campsite

Figure out the best location for your campsite. Choose an area that is flat, has enough space for everyone in your group to sleep comfortably and is as close to nature as you can get. If you are camping inside, try choosing a room with windows. 

Now, pitch your tent. If you don’t have a tent, build a blanket fort instead.

Don’t forget to pack all of your camping gear for this adventure such as sleeping bags, flashlights and camp chairs.

Tip #2: Bring the outdoors to you

Now that your campsite is set up, bring nature’s ambiance to you. You can use recorded nature sounds to add the dulcet tones of our national parks to your campsite. Or just use your computer to experience nature online. If you are indoors, open your windows to let fresh air in.

Are there kids coming along on this camping adventure with you? Have them set up blue and brown sheets and blankets to make a river or ocean near your campsite. They can even add some plushie wildlife for everyone to spot.

Tip #3: Make a campfire

If you have a fire pit, you can set up your campfire in your backyard. But there are lots of other ways you can add a campfire ambiance to your campsite. Turn your phone, computer or TV into a campfire by using one of the many fire videos or apps available on various streaming platforms. 

Are you crafty? You can also make your campfire using paper, felt, candles, sticks and more.

When around fire, practice proper fire safety. Children should not use fire without adult supervision.

Tip #4: Don’t forget the snacks and activities!

Camping is a great time to read books about nature, go on scavenger hunts, and stargaze.

S’mores are a classic camp treat, but did you know that  rather than making them on a campfire, you can use the power of the sun? You just need a solar oven made from a pizza box, graham crackers, chocolate and marshmallows.

Sign up for Camping Together to get even more recipe and activity recommendations for your home camping adventure.


Celeste Meiffren-Swango

State Director, Environment Oregon

As director of Environment Oregon, Celeste develops and runs campaigns to win real results for Oregon's environment. She has worked on issues ranging from preventing plastic pollution, stopping global warming, defending clean water, and protecting our beautiful places. Celeste's organizing has helped to reduce kids' exposure to lead in drinking water at childcare facilities in Oregon, encourage transportation electrification, ban single-use plastic grocery bags, defend our bedrock environmental laws and more. She is also the author of the children's book, Myrtle the Turtle, empowering kids to prevent plastic pollution. Celeste lives in Portland, Ore., with her husband and two daughters, where they frequently enjoy the bounty of Oregon's natural beauty.