As summer is fast approaching, many parents may be bombarded with requests from their children to send them to summer camp. For many kids, summer camp offers the chance to make good friends and to enjoy sports and activities they may not get to partake in at home. Summer camp can, however, be very expensive.
Many families may also simply not have the time in their busy schedules to send their kids away to camp for long periods of time. This does not mean, however, that your child cannot get the full experience of a stay at camp. Here are some great tips on how you can DIY your very own camp experience.
Invite Neighborhood Kids Over For a Back Yard Camp Out
The great outdoors may be no further away than your very own back yard. Have your child invite friends over and encourage children to bring tents over. Supervise as they set up the tents and decide who will sleep in which tent. Tell each tent to give themselves a name and set up tables where they can design signs to be placed on the outside of each tent.
Be Prepared With Day Time Activities
One of the best things about camp is the number of exciting outdoor activities that kids have the chance to participate in. Have a number of activities planned that can be played either individually or in teams, which can be divided based on who is in the various tents. You can arrange competitions like three legged races, wherein teams of two put on leg in each sack.
You can also set up a number of different types of relays, from running races around the neighborhood to scooter relays that allow kids to ride scooters at intervals before trading off. Keep a blackboard up that tracks various team’s progress and offer small rewards for the winning teams, such as ice cream sandwiches or drug store water guns.
Take Field Trips
Just because you do not have everything you need for a camp experience in your backyard does not mean that your little camper and their friends cannot take part in the full camp experience. If, for example, you do not have a pool, arrange a group trip to your community pool. It may help to invite older kids or other parents to help ensure that kids are all well supervised. You can also arrange group hikes in your area.
Start by working with the kids to pack a bag of healthy snacks or mixing a healthy trail mix. Look at a map before you leave and help all campers get a good sense of where you will be headed. While hiking, be sure to point out interesting plants and wildlife along the way.
Start A Fire
No camp experience is complete without the ever popular camp fire. You may be able to easily create a fire pit in your own backyard by using the drum of an old washing machine or even constructing one with bricks. It can also be relatively inexpensive to purchase free standing fire pits. Buy the supplies for s’mores: graham crackers, marshmallows, and chocolate, and use old wire hangers to roast marshmallows.
Encourage kids to tell campfire stories by suggesting topics. Older kids may even be able to be left alone by the fire, and younger children will enjoy the experience of learning how to build a fire and keep it going. Once the fire is out, set a “lights out time” that all campers must be asleep by, but allow them to talk in their tents for a while before falling asleep.