Outdoor Blog Entries

How to Camp at Home

Posted by Mileva H., Assistant Director of UREC, Outdoor on Monday, October 19, 2020 at 12:00 PM PDT

Sometimes I just want to camp. But if I don’t have a car, or campgrounds are closed anyway, I’ll just make camp at home! There’s something kind of awesome about having all the warm fuzzies of camping AND all the conveniences of your home-base (think flushing toilets and not having to pack anything). Camping at home is also a great way to introduce camping to first-timers who aren’t excited about being out in remote locations. You don’t even need a backyard to pull this off. This post will cover how to camp in whatever space you have, how to bring the outdoors in, and also suggests a few recipes for the complete camping experience at home.

If you have a massive backyard, that’s great – you can skip this section and frolic in all that space. But for those of us who live in apartments or those who don’t feel comfortable sleeping outdoors in the area they live, there are still some great options to set up a camp shelter. If you have a balcony or porch, you may be able to put a tent on it. Or, could you string up a hammock for the suspended camping experience? A tent in the living room is fun, but not required. Remember making forts out of blankets as a kid? Get your structural engineering roommate to help make the fleece fort of the future (complete with couch cushions upgrades)!

Now that you’ve made camp, start thinking of how you can invite the outdoors in. Could you turn down the thermostat in your room, then open windows to let the fresh air in while you snuggle up in a sleeping bag (on your cozy bed)? Consider getting a bouquet of flowers, or collecting leaves to adorn your tabletops. To add to the ambiance, think of all the sensory experiences you enjoy while outdoors. Light a pine scented candle, or use other products that smell of the outdoors. Find a Spotify channel featuring the sounds of nature; there are so many ranging from bird calls, thunderstorms, crickets in the desert, or the gentle lapping of the sea.

The quintessential component of camping – reaching back to our cave dwelling DNA days – is of course, fire. The magical, mesmerizing element of fire still brings humans together for safety, warmth and sometimes cooking. If you have a yard, then a well-made fire pit is your go-to. In times of fire bans, or you just don’t have the space or inclination, there are several options. Consider a candle (placed on a non-flammable surface, and not likely to be knocked over by people or pets to catch your fleece fort on fire). Though small in scale, our brains recognize the flame and infer candle light flickers to be the same as what danced on ancient cave walls. If you would rather skip the potential of fire hazard, that’s no problem; just find a lovely fire video on your TV or the internet. You can select the setting to be a lodge hearth or a simple rock ring campfire, and even chose from varied types of wood to watch reduce to ashes.

The last element to make camping at home fun, is to make your favorite camp fare. Food is the ultimate sensory experience to recreate! This could mean learning to cook on a fire, however most recipes will taste just as nice without the open flame. For breakfast, try peanut butter and banana quesadillas. Enjoy a staple like Mac&Cheese, and fancy it up with bacon, Brussel sprouts, smoked salmon, curry spice, broccoli – whatever makes your taste buds happy.  S’mores are a campfire classic, but you can also make them on the stovetop, oven, microwave, or grill. And don’t forget the hot cocoa to hold warmly in hand as you tell stories! Or maybe try spiced popcorn as you watch scary movies of teenagers staying at a cabin in the woods?!