There is something very appealing about unplugging, spending time in the fresh air and sunshine, cooking over an open fire, and relaxing with family. What better way to do that than to go camping? I grew up with a family that camped. When I was younger, we would pitch our massive tent at the lake. We spent our summers swimming, reading, relaxing, enjoying times with family and friends, and sleeping in that old tent. Then Mom and Dad purchased a pop-up camper. We took many a family trip with that camper exploring Indiana and staying at many of the state parks. I was a typical child that went through phases with liking to camp and not wanting to camp at all. However, as I get older, I look back on all of the memories of family campouts, and I wouldn’t change a thing.
Now as an adult, I enjoy the weekends where I can get away with my own family and leave everything behind for a camping trip. In fact, I like almost everything about camping. I like being outdoors, not having a schedule, the food, and the memories made around a campfire. Sure, it is a lot of work to plan and pack, but once camp is set, it is a very enjoyable time. In fact, every August we go camping with a group of friends to Ouabache State Park in Bluffton. This year, my parents and brother Bryan will be joining us, so we are taking both the camper and tent to accommodate our family. Hank is soooo excited that we are taking the tent. It will be his first experience with tent camping. Or like my brother Scott likes to say, “Real Camping.” Scott doesn’t believe that taking a camper (equipped with a refrigerator, stove, bathroom, and air conditioning) qualifies as camping. However, with the crazy warm weather we have had the past couple of years and the time-saving convenience, I gladly disagree with him and love taking a camper.
Want to go camping, but don’t have equipment? No problem! Have a camping adventure around your home.
- Sleep “under the stars” in the living room
- Go on a bear hunt throughout the backyard or neighborhood
- Read stories by flashlight on the couch
- Fix camp food in the convenience of your own kitchen
Here are some of the menu items and activities we are planning to do on this year’s campout. You can adapt them for your own campout as well.
Have a Great Week!
For Each S’more:
- Marshmallow roasting stick
- 1 large marshmallow
- 1 graham cracker
- 1 (1.5 oz) chocolate bar
- Heat the marshmallow over an open flame until it begins to brown and melt.
- Break the graham cracker in half. Sandwich the chocolate between the cracker and the hot marshmallow. Allow the marshmallow to cool a moment before eating.
For Each Pie:
- Pie iron
- 2 Slices bread
- Canned pie filling; apple, cherry, peach, blueberry, etc.
- Place slice of bread, butter side down, on lower half of cooker. Spoon fruit filling on center of bread.
- Place second slice of bread, butter side up, on top of fillings. Latch the pie iron; trim off excess bread if necessary.
- Toast over campfire, fireplace or fire pit until golden brown on both sides. A delicious snack in 4 – 6 minutes.
Tacos in a Bag
For Each Bag:
- Taco Meat
- 1 (2.5 ounce) package corn chips or Doritos
- Taco toppings: shredded lettuce, chopped tomato, chopped green onions, chopped avocado, sliced black olives, shredded cheese, salsa, sour cream
- Heat your favorite taco meat. I usually do this in the microwave in the camper, but it can be done over the fire if needed. Note: I like to make and freeze the taco meat ahead of our camping trip. Then when it’s time for camping, I let it thaw in the cooler or in the camper’s refrigerator.
- With the bags unopened, gently crush the corn chips. Snip the corners off the bags with scissors and slit open the bags along the side edge. Spoon in toppings. Serve in the bag and eat, using a fork.
- Mailing tube
- Child-Size hammer
- Duct tape
- Hammer many nails into the cardboard mailing tube. (I put dots on the tube with a marker where the nails would go to make it easier for Hank to see.)
- Fill the tube with river stones, pipe cleaner pieces, and rice. (I put the materials that Hank was going to put in the tube into an empty water bottle. That way, when it was time to pour it in we didn’t have to use a funnel.)
- Decorate with Duct Tape. (I found some great duct tape decorated with leaves and pinecones on it to go along with the camping theme.)
- 1 empty green plastic bottle (such as Mt. Dew)
- 1 sock
- 1 rubber band
- 2 Google eyes
- 1 piece of green foam
- Hot glue gun
- Bubble solution
- Cut the bottom off plastic bottle with scissors.
- Place the cut end of the bottle into the sock and pulled it tightly onto the bottle.
- Place a rubber band around the sock to keep it in place and then fold the sock back over the rubber band.
- Glue the eyes in place.
- Cut 3 triangles out of the green foam for the back decoration and glue to snake.
To blow bubbles, dip your sock end of snake into bubble solution to get the fabric wet, and then blow through the mouthpiece of the bottle. To add color to the bubbles, put drops of food coloring directly on the sock.
*Original idea from Two-daloo.com
Bike Riding – The park has a wonderful bike trail for hours of fun.
Scavenger Hunt (printable from Creative Homemakers.com)
By now you know that my family plays games whenever we can, and camping is no exception. We have accumulated a surprising number of outdoor-/camp-themed games that always seem to find their way on the packing list. These come in very handy if there is inclement weather, or for late-night fun around the picnic table.
EcoFlux, by Loony Labs – In the wild, you must adapt to survive! Will you win by having your Bears Eat Fish? Or will some change the goal so that their Frogs and Insects can make Night Music? Play ecology-themed Actions and Rules like Scavenger or Composting, but watch out for Creeper cards, such as Forest Fire, that can hurt everyone! Discover a little about how things go together, with EcoFluxx – the nature game of ever-changing rules!
Scavengers, by Zombie State Games – Each year the Hamburger family escapes into the great outdoors for a little rest and relaxation. During their stay eager animals scavenge for food that has been left unattended to take home and make meals of their own.
Squarrels, by Home Lantern Games – If you enjoy playing card games, you will fall in love with S’Quarrels! S’Quarrels is an exciting (and addicting) card game built around the theme of squirrels collecting acorns before winter. Ambushing, Hoards, Quarrels, and Whirlwinds are all part of the fun. Get the Golden Acorn but watch out for the Rotten Acorn.
Hike, by Moosetache Games – Brave the Elements, Blaze the Trail in Hike! Go for a trek, get lost on a trail, ride out avalanches, and always remember to watch out for Poop! There’s no littering allowed in Hike: The Card Game!
Camp, by Education Outdoors – Camp is a game where both children and adults can play and learn fun facts about the great outdoors. The game is designed to grow with the player, starting at level one questions, which are primarily identification of animals. As the players increase in their knowledge about the outdoors, they grow into the higher level questions. A fun and educational game where parents and children can play against each other to get to camp first.
S’mores The Card Game, by Education Outdoors – S’Mores the Card game is fun for the whole family. Be the first player to get all of the ingredients to make the perfect S’mores.
Hit The Trail, by Education Outdoors – A unique, fast paced, nature-inspired family game that comes packaged in a handy mini backpack. Test your knowledge and have fun doing it, inspired by the great outdoors.
Bears, by Fireside Games – You and your friends are on a relaxing camping trip. But as you hammer in the last stake, you hear rustling. Bears are romping through the campsite. Who will survive the rampage? And who will be eaten by bears? Bears is a fast-playing, competitive game in which you score points by pairing dice. Shoot bears and run from tents for a few points, or take a risk and score big by sleeping through the attack. But watch out. If Bears are left at the end of the round, your sleeping campers are done for.
After Dark Fun:
Glow Toys – Instead of the usual glow sticks, this year I found some light up glow wands. You press the button and the top of the wand (which looks like a pinwheel) starts spinning and changes all sorts of glow in the dark colors. It runs on batteries so it can be used over and over again.
Catch The Firefly Game – The firefly carries a flashlight and silently counts to 10 as he walks away from the group. When the firefly reaches 10, he flashes the light once. Other players then count to 10 and take off to find the firefly, who tries to evade his pursuers. The firefly continuously counts to 10 and flashes the light at the end of each count. The first one to tag the firefly becomes the new firefly.
Campfire Stories – No camping trip is complete without stories around a campfire. To make it easier to see, we read stories by flashlight. I know that typically you tell ghost stories, but since we have a 5-year-old and almost 2-year-old, ghost stories are a little too scary.
- The Very Lonely Firefly, by Eric Carle
- The Very Quiet Cricket, by Eric Carle
- Let’s Have A Tree Party, by David Martin
- We’re Going on a Nature Hunt, by Steve Metzger
- Bear Feels Scared, by Karma Wilson
- Owl Babies, by Martin Waddell
- S Is for S’mores: A Camping Alphabet, by Helen Foster James