Working from home, suppressing the Coronavirus, I can’t go camping in the Lake District as planned. I have to be creative, especially with the kids in the house all day. So, I persuaded them to come wild camping in the garden with me this Saturday. Why not do the same?

Camping in the garden

You may not fancy hiking out into the wild areas of the Lake District or Scotland. You may even be scared of doing so. Here is a small step towards that, a mini-adventure for you and your children, a night to get their imagination running wild. It’s also a night that your kids will never forget, and you don’t even have to leave your home!

Camping in the garden with the kids
Camping in the garden with the kids

Wild camping

Let me first introduce wild camping to you. You get your boots on, head out into the wilderness and in a remote area, you pitch a tent, or any kind of shelter from the elements, to sleep the night.

Wild camping on Great Bourne
Wild camping on Great Bourne

I’ve been doing this for almost 30 years, I love it. Furthermore, when I get home from an expedition I feel closed in. It’s so freeing being out.

You don’t need to go to this extreme!

We’re only a few days into this ‘staying at home’ malarkey. The kids are almost certainly ready to pronounce that they are bored. We’re finding ways to entertain them, home-school them and keep them from tearing the house apart with frustration.

Here’s one distraction. Go camping – at home!

If you have a tent, it’s easy. Take the kids out into the garden tonight and announce that tomorrow, you’re all going on an adventure, ‘We’re camping in the garden’. Take out the tent instructions and give them a challenge – pitch the tent. I’m hoping that you know how to put the tent up yourself, so you can assist before the fight breaks out.

Camping twinkle lights
Camping in the garden – twinkle lights

If you have two small kids, the Vango Banshee Pro 300 is the perfect size. My boys are 12 and 13 and we fit in it comfortably.

Take a look at my blog on the Vango Banshee Pro 200 to get to know it (if you’re thinking of buying one), if you have a 300 there’s a link to printable pitching instructions in there as well.

Sleeping bags?

So you have the tent up in the garden. Next thing to think about is keeping warm through the night. I have loads of sleeping bags BUT this weekend I’m just going to drag the quilt down, a pillow each and give the kids a chance to cuddle up.

Camping in the garden
Camping in the garden with the kids

Mattress? I dare not say the price of the inflatable mattress I use in the Winter myself, just in case the wife’s reading this. This weekend is improvisation so I’m just going to throw a couple of quilts down inside the tent. If it’s chilly, you’ll really appreciate the effort you made.

Camp cooking

One of the most important things you need to do when you’re wild camping, and it’s not so bad when you’re on a National Trust campsite, is stay warm through the night. Of course, you’re in your garden but it might still get cold. Eating before bed is the key.

Wild camp cooking on Dale Head summit
Wild camp cooking on Dale Head summit

The only heat source you have when you’re camping out in the wild, is you! Your gut to be specific. The food you eat will need digesting. Your gut heats the food up to break it down. The heat that’s produced is what will keep you warm during the night. On very cold wild camps I eat fatty foods. You’d be surprised how much a handful of peanuts can cheer you up at 2am.

There’s no need to go crazy, you’re safe, only metres away from a nice warm house. If you don’t have a stove to make it all authentic, cook inside and take it out. Or, why not take a picnic of sandwiches, fruit and your favourite chocolate bar.

Campfire Toast in the Forest of Bowland
Campfire Toast in the Forest of Bowland

Last Summer, I took my son Jack into the Forest of Bowland for a hammock camp. We lit a fire and had the most basic meal, curried mixed pulses with potato baked on the side of the fire, one he’ll remember forever. Beans on campfire toast the next morning after he lit the fire with his flint (while I was still in bed) was to die for. If you have a barbeque, use it (a good distance from the tent!).


You must hydrate. Even if you sleep right through, you’ll need a drink when you wake up. And, you’ll be surprised how much a good swig of water warms you up during the night. Water is what moves energy around the body. This includes heat.

Read my article on Hydration if you want to know how that works.

The kids will find it really funny brushing their teeth in the garden as well, so take a good bottle of water and a few small cups.


You have a house for the ‘important’ stuff but having a wee in the bushes won’t kill you. The children will find it highly amusing. Kids love pissing in the bushes!

Hand sanitiser, if you managed to get some before the numpties robbed it all, would be great. Old fashioned soap and water does the trick very well.

Now sleep, have fun and wake up in the morning having had a mini-adventure. Honestly, they’ll remember it all their lives.

Improvising (you don’t have a tent)

OK, so you don’t have a tent, or the one you have is not big enough (or too big).

Camping under shelter
Kentmere bivvy wild camp

Why not do something like John and I did in Kentmere last year? After a long day on the fells we headed for a cave. After repacking at the van, we set off a bit late and time became an issue. Cutting the trip short we simply lay down in a field and as we got our sleeping bags out, it threw it down. We rushed over to a wall and I strung the tarp up from the fence to a couple of poles stuck into the grass. Read the whole story here.

We had shelter from the rain and our sleeping bags kept us warm. Maybe you could rig a tarp up and do the same.

No garden to camp in?

You’re not getting off lightly, even if you have no garden to camp in. Camp in the living room!

Tarp toggle hammock in the Forest of Bowland
Tarp toggle hammock in the Forest of Bowland

Get the kids to ‘pitch’ a bedsheet from shelves, window or door handles, anything that won’t collapse in the night. Look up slip knot and trucker’s hitch on Youtube, teach them how to tie the slip knot around a tennis ball inside the corner of the sheet and the trucker’s hitch around an anchor to give tension. They’ll love it.

Eagle Crag wild camp with the dog
Eagle Crag wild camp with Lacey

Have the open end of your improvised shelter facing the best part of the garden or if you’re inside, face the TV and have a movie pick with some of their favourite snacks.

Have fun camping in the garden

Camping with a firepit in the garden
Camping with a firepit in the garden

So get out there in your garden and have some fun with the kids. I set up some battery operated fairy lights, read them a story from The Tales of Beedle the Bard while they ate a Dairy Milk and cuddled up before we went to sleep. I think they loved our little garden camp.

Any questions, please comment below.

Enjoy your camp.

Read Next…

Could you survive a pandemic, natural disaster or even a couple of nights in the wild? The SAS Survival Handbook is the perfect guide to give you the skills to survive in the wild, overcome dangerous situations or be able to light the barbeque without a lighter!

Survival essentials tool kit
Survival essentials tool kit

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