I am quick to say that I enjoy camping, but I think when you get right down to it I enjoy the idea of camping more than, you know, actually camping.

That’s why, when we had the first bonfire of summer a few days ago and set up a little tent in the backyard for my daughter to play in, I suddenly realized that camping in the backyard is basically the best idea ever. For all of you die-hard camping enthusiasts scoffing at the hubris of this self-proclaimed city girl, I present to you this evidence in favor of backyard camping.

1. Bathrooms

I’m just going to throw out my strongest reason right off the bat because seriously, can anyone argue with this? BATHROOMS. With doors that shut and toilets that flush! Soap and warm running water to wash your hands and absolutely zero bugs or burying toilet paper or wiping with leaves (do people do that? I feel like hard-core campers scoff at toilet paper, too). When you set up camp in your backyard your own personal loo is mere steps away, and that is something I can get behind 100%.

2. Can’t beat the commute

It always seemed sort of asinine to drive three or four hours to reach an unspoiled forested mecca, only to find a traffic jam at the campground or a hiking trail clogged with other weekend warriors. By skipping the drive and embracing the (albeit smaller-scale) wilderness in your backyard, you’ll be saving gas, reducing carbon emissions, and in some cases you might actually feel more of that fantastic “peace and quiet” than you would at a campground with frat boys on one side and early-morning yoga chanters on the other.

Backyard Campout
Image courtesy of Evan Long.

3. Late-night s’mores runs

Or beer runs. Or anything-you-forgot runs. When you go camping, if your supplies don’t make it into the car or into your backpack, you’re out of luck. In your backyard, however, if you find that demand for s’mores has widely outstripped supply, or someone was a little too enthusiastic with their sun worshipping, you can simply nip inside for more marshmallows, or to raid the medicine cabinet for the aloe. Presto!

4. Wildlife

Chipmunks, the odd deer, a chorus of birds that wake you up with their song in the morning — these things I truly love and appreciate. But who among us hasn’t spent a sleepless night in a cold tent, terrified and trying to figure out if that scratching sound is tree branches or a bear’s exploratory claws? Or hearing wolves howl in the distance and feeling your blood run cold? Wild animals are majestic, beautiful, and absolutely terrifying. Sometimes, camping can be better when the only wildlife you have to worry about is the neighbour’s shih tzu and perhaps the odd curious raccoon.

5. Beauty in the everyday

I read an article the other day about awe, and how it’s increasingly missing from our lives. The author spoke about the need to witness awe-inspiring sights like the Grand Canyon, the ocean, or a mountain range up close. When I think about it though, I think it’s just as important to let yourself be awed by the everyday. The stars struggling to peek through city lights. How quiet your neighborhood is when everyone’s retreated indoors for the night. Sleeping outside with the faint scent of lilacs drifting through the mesh of the tent window. If you can find a way to find awe in the every day, and share that with your children too, I think you’ll do just fine.

No forest required.

Feature image courtesy of Brian

By Madeleine Somerville

Madeleine Somerville is the author of All You Need Is Less: An Eco-Friendly Guide to Guilt-Free Green Living and Stress-Free Simplicity. She is a writer, wannabe hippie and lover of soft cheeses. She lives in Edmonton, Canada, with her daughter. You can also find Madeleine at her blog, Sweet Madeleine.