Monday, June 20, 2011

Summer camp at home: Week 2 -- Camping

My family loves camping, and because Saturday, June 25 is the day of the Great American Backyard Campout, next week seems like the perfect week for a camping theme for our summer camp at home.

My love of camping started early. As a kid, my family camped at a state park and national lakeshore near our house. Later, my husband and I were invited to go camping with friends two months after we were married. We bought a little dome tent (in the picture) for $50 on clearance. He and I had such a good time that we ended up camping in several places throughout Florida. Most recently, we took our boys camping in the Everglades.

If you're following along on my nerdy plan to do summer camp at home with a different theme each week, here are some ideas for you and your kids. It's going to be kind of a light week for me with the activities because I also need to prepare for my little one's second birthday party. So you might come up with more ideas than I've listed.

- Build a blanket-and-chair fort every day for pretend camping in the family room. (I would have loved trying to make a teepee out of cardboard boxes, but I don't think I'll have the time. Someone should try it!)

- Lead an ABC nature walk. As you head down a trail, look for things that start with each letter of the alphabet. Take photos or notes of each item if you like.

- Make crayon rubbings of leaves by placing a sheet of paper on top of a leaf and coloring over it to make the shape of the leaf appear on the page. Older kids can make several rubbings of different leaves and find out which leaf comes from which tree.

- Color pictures of wildlife and talk about their characteristics.

- Make toilet paper tube "binoculars."

- Make rock necklaces out of the best rocks the boys can find. (My toddler is so fascinated by rocks and carries one around with him if he finds one he likes.) These pressed flower pendants are pretty, and I like these sea-bling rings too -- hey, people camp by the beach!

- Make bird seed ornaments.

- Play with our well-used explorer kit. (This one looks fun too.)

- Read camping-themed books every day, like Curious George Goes Camping, When We Go Camping, S Is For Smores or other books we can find at the library.

- Pitch a tent in our backyard for the Great American Backyard Campout!

If you don't have a tent, ask family or friends if they can loan you a tent for the night. Frankly, I'm not sure if my family will be able to sleep outside all night long because it is H-O-T! But I know the kids will have fun trying.

Where we live in southern Florida, it's best to camp December through mid-April or so because of the heat and mosquitoes. So a week of camping activities in the summer will be a fun way to tide my family over until we can camp again for real.