Meeting a Challenge

A few years ago, we received an email from the National Wildlife Federation asking us, and millions of others, to camp in the backyard once during the summer.

Upping the Ante

Man by tent

November makes 12.

We took it to heart and then went further. Over the past twelve months, Rich and occasionally Marion camped out at least once a month. The first time was on an unusually mild December night in 2020. The last one as November 2021 ended. In brilliant sunshine, Rich set up his backpack tent about 20 feet from the garage and spent a night punctuated by coyotes and owls vocalizing in nearby woods. The night completed his camping every month for the past year.



Some months – like in the dark of winter – Rich tented in the back yard.  After an evening of reading or watching a Great Courses DVD Rich bid “Good night” and stepped into the cool evenings, snuggled into the thick sleeping bag – preheated with “Hot Hands” packs, and enjoyed the evening serenades.

Watching the Weather

January and February 2021, Rich camped back to back.  The predictions were mild for January 31st and February 1st. And, cold was on its way. So, Rich pushed away snow and set up his tent next to the barn where the chickens sleep.  He was aroused at 4:00 a.m. when the light we use to wake the birds did just that.  Between the bright light shining in his tent and the rooster’s crowing Rich gave up and came in about 4:30 a.m.  Still, the overnight counts!

Combining Interests

In warmer months when fishing beckoned, he would head to NE or SE Iowa and come back with a string of trout or panfish.

The few times we traveled further afield, we tented – March in Kansas with the campground to ourselves; September and October in the East under beautiful stars and in the pouring rain.

Why Backyard Camp?

Backyard camping is great fun, even in a tiny urban yard.  It also has these advantages over trekking to a distant state or national park:

  • Spontaneous decision. No need to take time off work or school. Just set up the tent behind the house, add a sleeping pad and bag, and camp.
  • Choosing the weather. If it’s cold, hot, windy, rainy, or (gasp) snowy, wait for a more pleasant night.
  • No camping fee or need to drive anywhere.
  • Easy to drag in many blankets and pillows that might not be taken on a camping trip somewhere.
  • During winter’s long dark nights just stay inside to watch tv or read before sleeping in the tent.
  • It’s an adventure….at least for kids.

With 12 months down, will Rich’s streak of every month camping continue?????    We’re not sure, but likely it will.