A trip to the backyard
Carlo Modequillo (The Freeman) - July 8, 2018 - 12:00am

CEBU, Philippines — There’s a whole world waiting to be discovered. It is not anywhere far, the very reason why most people think they know it well enough and so they take it for granted. It is a world that takes only a few steps to reach.

The family backyard is an all familiar place. It’s just there to slip out to when the teenager boys want to try a stick of cigarette or when the teenage girls want to check their cell phones for some ‘sensitive’ messages from their suitors. It’s also where Dad goes to enjoy a bottle of beer away from the sight of the kids, on Sunday afternoons.

The backyard can be more than just Mom’s small vegetable garden. It has room for all other purposes, big and small. It’s where family members can try a life away from the usual comforts of home – which can be a lot of fun, too.

A family camping right in the backyard can offer fun family activities to keep everyone busy and feeling bright. It can be more interesting if the whole undertaking is as free of the household as possible. It should feel like the venue is actually some place far away.

Good planning and preparation are necessary. Everything shall be thought out thoroughly beforehand, like setting up the tent and planning meals and fun activities to have. Roy Scribner, a camping professional, at the www.active.com website, cites key things to make the family ‘trip’ to the backyard go smoothly:

Ice Chest. To get the maximum performance out of the ice chest, it has to be pre-cooled with ice at least six hours before loading it with your food and drinks. The ice to be loaded into the ice chest shall be fresh block ice, which lasts longer than cubed ice. Also, only refrigerated or frozen foods shall be loaded into the ice chest, so precious ice won’t be wasted cooling-down warm food and drinks.

Clothing. It’s much easier to locate clothing if everyone has their own duffel bag or backpack. A large garbage bag works great for dirty laundry. Everyone shall remember the house nearby shall be off-limits as much as possible within the duration of the family camping the bathroom.

Gear Storage. Plastic storage bins are a great way to keep everything organized at the campsite. An empty storage bin next to the tent is a great place to keep shoes at night. Even though there is not a cloud in the sky, everything outside the tent is likely to be wet with dew in the morning.

Tent Care. The exterior of the tent has a waterproof coating that is susceptible to damage from abrasion and UV rays from the sun. The floor of the tent shall be protected with a large tarp, or a specialized piece of material from the tent manufacturer called a footprint. The tent zipped-up as much as possible, in order to keep insects out.

Sleeping Bags. Sleeping bags shall be unzipped during the day, so these will air-out and dry. Sleeping bags absorb moisture from the body during the night and that moisture reduces the efficiency of the insulation inside the bag.

Headlamps. Headlamps are the new flashlights, because they leave the hands free and keep the light pointed in the direction one is looking. These can be very useful when brushing teeth at night – since there shall be no electrical connection from the house to the tent!

Camping Meals. The camping menu shall be simple. It can be done by incorporating common ingredients. Frozen chicken breasts can make great burritos for a dinner meal and, the next day, can be grilled for sandwiches or a salad. It takes imagination – an egg scramble is a hearty camping breakfast that’s easy to make and can incorporate many leftover ingredients from previous meals.

Campground Etiquette. Most camping etiquette is common sense, like not disturbing the neighbors with loud noise, especially by the kids at play. Even the normal voice levels inside the house can seem to be a bit too loud in the open. And the camping garbage may invite stray animals, which may drag it to the neighbors’ yards. Due diligence shall be observed in never allowing any food inside the tent and all food must be secured at night, or any time the campers are asleep or away from the tent.

Leave No Trace. Family members shall observe the usual camping etiquette of not leaving any ugly traces of the activity when it is over. Bottle caps and scraps of aluminum foil on the ground and in the fire pit are common ugly traces. Parents shall point this out to their kids. The yard shall be left cleaner than when they came – especially so because it is their own backyard.

Camping is a great opportunity for everyone in the family to practice mindful living – mindful of their ways and mindful of the environment. It makes no difference where the experience takes place, whether in the great outdoors or right in the family’s very backyard.

 

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