Backyard Camping 101

Nature Guides & Activities

PURPOSE: Learn how to be prepared while having fun camping – whether you are at home or away!

Camp-At-Home Activity Guide

Camping at home is something everyone can do! It’s a great way to relax and unwind from the daily hustle and bustle. Plus, it people to connect with nature without having to venture too far.

Downloadable PDFs

The 10 Essentials To Camp-At-Home

1.  Navigation Aid: Map or Compass

The pandemic may be over, but your navigation skills may still be rusty.

2.  Sun Protection: Sunglasses or Sunscreen

The sun is everywhere. Even in your backyard.

3.  Insulation: Rain Jacket or Extra Clothing

Hot desert days, cool desert nights.

4.   Illumination: Headlamp or Flashlight

Great for ghost stories and strange noises.

5.  First Aid Kit

Just in case.

6.   Fire Starter: Matches or Lighter

Only if you have a chimney or fire pit, please.

7.   Repair Tool: Knife or Multi-tool

For assembling and projects. Think Magyver

8.  Nutrition: Extra Food

For meals and fun campfire snacks, like our S’mores recipe below!

9.  Hydration: Water & Drinks

It’s important to stay hydrated in arid climates!

10.  Emergency Plans

Check the weather and have a Plan B in case things don’t go as planned.

What Should I Bring?

Camping Gear

Lawn Chair
Bug Repellent
Cookware – Utensils
Sleeping Bag – Pad
Extra Blankets

Fun Activities

Camp Songbook
Musical Instrument
Scavenger Hunt
Book to Read
Hula Hoop

Bathroom & Toiletries

Toilet Paper
Lip Balm

First Aid & Safety

Sanitizer Wipes
Bug Repellent
Hand Sanitizer

Campfire Safety

Use this checklist to make sure your fire is safe.


  • Light a fire only when an adult is present and in charge.
  • Keep young children and pets away from the fire.
  • Make sure your campfire is a safe distance from your tent or anything that can burn.
  • Use rocks to create a fire ring in the center of a large cleared area.
  • Use the Drown-Stir-Drown-Fell method to put out your campfire safely.


  • Start a campfire when it is windy.
  • Leave a fire unattended.
  • Leave your fire without first putting it completely out.
  • Use flammable liquids to start a campfire.
  • Extinguish a campfire with just dirt or sand, add water!
  • Bury warm/hot coals or ashes in a campfire pit.
  • Burn glass, cans, plastics, or garbage in your campfire.
  • Play or goof around near a campfire.

Cool Campfires!

Learn about three different types of campfires and how to safely build each.

Tepee Fire

Tepee Campfire

Make a pile of tinder and arrange your kindling over it like the poles of a tepee. Keep the tepee shape as you add more wood to the fire, and be careful that the tepee doesn’t tip over.

Cross Fire

Place a pile of tinder between two parallel pieces of kindling. Once the fire is burning, lay more pieces of kindling across the fire perpendicular to the first pair. As you add larger sticks to the fire, make each new layer perpendicular to the last, building a pyramid shape.

Log Cabin

Log Cabin fire

Surround your tinder pile with a square of kindling built by laying two sticks parallel on either side of the tinder, then two sticks on top of and perpendicular to the first pair. Build up several levels and end with a “roof” of small kindling across the top. Add larger sticks in pairs to keep the fire’s log cabin shape.

Campfire S’mores Recipe

Learn how to make your own S’mores by using a campfire, or an oven/microwave if camping indoors!

  • Graham crackers
  • Chocolate bars
  • Marshmallows
    • To make colorful s’mores, try using rainbow marshmallows!
  • Wooden stick or bbq skewer
  1. Using one graham cracker, break it in half (top and bottom crackers)
  2. Place a piece of chocolate on top of the bottom graham cracker
  3. Put a marshmallow on the stick and hold it over the fire until roasted and slightly golden brown
  4. Put together like a sandwich and get ready to eat

Backyard Activities

Backyard Birding

Gambel's Quail

Birding is a fun activity that is open to everyone and can take place anywhere. No matter the size of your backyard, you can attract local birds with the following necessities: food, water and shelter. Once in place, all you need to bring is yourself, a notebook, and a pencil to start birding in your backyard. Binoculars and bird ID books can come later as you advance.


Big Dipper through trees

Stargazing in your backyard can be a magical component of a backyard camping experience. As dusk settles, lay out a blanket, turn off your house lights, and watch as the night sky slowly unveils its celestial wonders. Whether you’re using a star map or just enjoying the view, backyard stargazing invites you to marvel at the cosmos from the comfort of your own home.