7 Ways to Turn a Backyard Into a Campsite

Sleep under the stars!

Kids camping in their backyard.

(RonTech3000 / Shutterstock.com)

There’s nothing like leaving the city behind for the Great Outdoors, relaxing under the vast night sky, illuminated by thousands of twinkling stars, and the scent of roasted marshmallows amid the backdrop of a crackling campfire.

Summer is the time to make that nature vacation a reality. And camping is a chance to reconnect with the family and reconnect with the outdoors.

When driving deep out into the country isn’t practical, you can recreate the same “outdoor” experience just outside your back door! 

Here are seven suggestions for turning your lawn into a personal campsite.

Get packing

The goal is to get outside and not to spend the evening running back and forth from the kitchen to the “campsite.” FreshOfftheGrid.com suggests keeping the experience authentic by packing everything, from lawn chairs, to a cooler full of cold drinks, and even your toothbrush, in advance. 

View this post on Instagram

A post shared by Brian Robinson (@robtech_29er)

While prepacking can turn backyard camping into an adventure, staying near home has advantages over traveling to a campsite. When you inevitably discover those missing flashlight batteries or your daughter’s forgotten teddy bear, you can easily grab it.

Take a hike

Parents Magazine recommends starting your journey with a new adventure. Put on your backpacks (you can leave the really heavy stuff at home) and take a walk around the neighborhood. This is the time to go exploring down streets that you haven’t visited or don’t walk down on a regular basis.

Double the fun by packing a map and compass and trying to navigate your neighborhood streets outdoors-style. Binoculars and a magnifying glass are another good add; Little ones will enjoy using these tools to examine suburbia’s flora and fauna. 

Family with small children hiking outdoors in summer.

(Halfpoint / Shutterstock.com)

Pitch the tent

What’s camping without a tent? After the hike, it’s time to set up the campsite. A pop up tent is a low stress way to make the deck a little more homey. But, FreshOfftheGrid.com explains, if you are looking for a challenge, you can make your own shelter using nylon cord (or a clothesline), a tarp, and some stakes. 

View this post on Instagram

A post shared by Jennifer Jane Bannell (@sleep_in_style_glamping)

Build a fire

As the sun starts to dip below the horizon, it’s time to get that campfire going! Safety first! FreshOfftheGrid.com recommends a simple pop-up fire pit. Or, if all else fails, a BBQ grill, combined with several strategically placed candlesticks, can provide the smokey ambience and help you get cooking.

Get Cooking!

Time to see if your fire is up to grilling standards (or your BBQ grill if you are “cheating”). In addition to serving up time-honored camping standards like hot dogs and hamburgers, Country Living encourages getting adventurous with your food. Mix it up with creative hot dog toppings and gourmet additions to your burger.

Another fun campfire food is freshly popped popcorn. Warm hot chocolate in vintage thermoses is perfect for outdoor relaxation, along with outdoorsy cocktails for the adults, and roasted marshmallow gooey s'mores for dessert. 

Backyard camping has its advantages. Parents Magazine points out that there is no excuse for using disposable plates and cutlery. With the kitchen only a few dozen feet away, you can grace your campsite with environmentally-friendly reusable silverware. 

View this post on Instagram

A post shared by camping_ego (@camping_ego)

Fun camping activities

After dinner and before bedtime is when the real fun begins! If the sun is still out, or the full moon is radiant enough, you can enjoy lawn games like croquet or giant Jenga. Filling up an outdoor pool and going for a swim is another fun activity, suggests Country Living. Otherwise, you can snuggle up by the fire in your sleeping bags for a competitive board game session.

View this post on Instagram

A post shared by Sioux County Public Library (@siouxcountylibrary)

Other classic camping activities include telling ghost stories and singing camping songs. Or you can string up a white bedsheet, pull out a projector, and set up movie night under the stars. 

FreshOfftheGrid.com recommends additional activities, like stargazing or a backyard scavenger hunt, lit up by the campfire, strung-up Christmas lights, or flashlights. 

The next morning

The fun doesn’t have to end at sunrise. Before packing up your tent, and “traveling” back home, Country Living recommends starting up the grill again for freshly roasted breakfast sandwiches. 

If you are a painter, you might enjoy welcoming the sun by unleashing your inner artist. Or you can hike around the neighborhood one more time before returning to routine. 

Actually, another benefit of backyard camping is that it doesn’t require an investment of more than a few hours of time. If your summer schedule is too tight for conventional vacations, you can sleep outdoors with the family and be back in the office the next morning. 

That means there are no more excuses for forgoing the Great Outdoors this summer! 

Mom and daughter painting together.

(Oksana Kuzmina / Shutterstock.com)