May 24, 2013

Camping Fun

I'm going to take a break from camping recipes and food suggestions to talk about camping fun. Of course, campfire popcorn and a popcorn bar are fun, but there's much more to camping activities than just the food (there is!).

Check through this list of things to do and items to bring to give yourself some ideas. Please share any activities that haven't made the list. New ideas give you the chance to change things up and keep it new and I'm always looking for more.

Before you leave, find out about activities and tourist locations, hours of operations, directions, entry fees and so on. Make a note about anything you would like to do and pack it immediately in your suitcase or purse.

Japanese Gardens - Lethbridge, Alberta

Cameras - A camera is entertainment all by itself. Look not only for great 'real' shots of the people you are with, but also unusual pictures of your surroundings. Nature can be full of amazing views.
Pictures snapped by your children are a wonderful way to see a trip through their eyes. Inexpensive digital cameras can be found with simple functions now. These are perfect for children. If you don't think they are ready for that, give each child a disposable camera to use on the trip. Once at home, you can help them set the pictures up in a scrapbook and add captions.  It's a good idea to take along an extra camera or two. It will save the trip for the child who accidentally forgets her camera or drops his camera in the lake.

Mobile Sports Equipment
Bikes, scooters, skateboards, roller skates
Helmets, knee and elbow pads, gloves for safety

More Sporting Equipment 
Bocce Ball
Soccer Gear
Baseball Gear
Road hockey Gear

For Quiet Times and Rainy Days
Portable radio - also good to check the weather forecast each day
Deck of Cards, Cribbage Board
Board Games - if you can't decide which games to bring along, choose the games for the most people with the least pieces to lose
Pen and Paper
Books, Magazines and Comic Books
Reading Head Lamp

Fishing Poles
Tackle Box/Bait
Fishing Net
BB and Pellet guns for shooting at targets or cans
Knives for Whittling
Archery equipment

Connecting with Nature
Magnifying Glass
Constellation Map
Bird Guide and Vegetation Guide - I enjoy books with illustrations so I can identify unfamiliar species.
Scrap Book - great to paste in leaf collections, seeds, flowers, etc
Sketch Book - or a nature journal
Bug Catcher - some type of container to keep crawly critters in. You can usually buy them in the spring with the Spring toys, but a small box with a few holes in the top will work too.
Butterfly Net
Gathering Baskets - for gathering flowers, berries, leaves, pretty rocks, shells, moss and more. Once back at home, help the children put their treasures together into a terrarium, a treasure box or a nature display.

Nature and Art
Fairy Gardens, Doodlebugs and Gnome Homes -Stop by Michaels or the dollar store and pick up special supplies to make fairy gardens and gnome homes. The little homes can be made out of twigs, leaves, branches or use a cleaned milk carton cut in half (the tall way) so they have a roofed structure to begin with. An upside-down flower pot with the side broken/cut out makes a cute house too. Use glue to decorate with moss, feathers, twigs, flowers, etc. until they have a little house that calls to a homeless gnome. Pick up glitter and small animals and flowers for fairy gardens. Little chairs that give them a place to rest and pretty stones and gems (or make your own with paint, sequins and sparkles) will lure them to sit in your fairy garden. What you decide to put in it is only limited by your imagination. Check out Pinterest for all kinds of ideas and then pick up your supplies. This is a great activity at home for your own garden too.

Bubble Burst Paintings - Hang a sheet of paper up between two trees. Mix bubble solution with food dye to add color. Let the kids blow bubbles at the paper and watch the design that is made as the bubbles hit the paper and pop.

Smash Box - A Smash Box is based on the idea of the Smash Book. A Smash Book is a journal, to do list, scrapbook, art book, nature journal and memory book, all in one! Anything can be added to the book. See a pretty feather? Add it in. Read a neat saying? Write it in. Take a cool picture with your Bestie in the photo booth at the mall? Definately add it in. Doodle on a page while you wait for the bus. Add your after supper to do list. Paste in the cute kitten you tore from a magazine. Get the idea? If not, or actually even if you think you do, check out this video. Seeing just makes it so much easier to understand.

For your camping trip, give the kids the smash books and have them add in their to dos for each morning, camp chores and so on (if everyone chips in, it makes better memories and everyone has more fun). When each day is done, they can decorate the page or doodle it or whatever (or even take it out if they really don't want it in there). Pick up travel brochures when you visit and keep ticket stubs, meal receipts or anything that can be used to smash in their books. Feathers, flowers, leaves, twigs, fur, seeds are all great additions for the camping Smash book. In the Smash Box, include the book and other supplies like stickers, foamy shapes with sticky backs, colored feathers, glue and double sided tape, scissors, sequins, sparkles, markers and possibly paint (that one is your call). If you can't find an official Smash book, try a journal with a wire-coil spine.

Craft Box - Always fun but great to have along for a rainy day. Pine cones can be turned into little men with googly eyes and felt hats, or brush on glue and roll them in glitter to hang from a string. Acorns with pipe cleaners also make great little people. Or turn a bunch into a wind chime or a wreath (again, you can never have too much glitter).
Flowers, leaves, small twigs and the like are great for a collage, to make a mini forest in a box, or to 'draw' a picture.  In your craft box, include glue, double sided tape, scissors, glitter, sequins, buttons, scraps of fabric, pipe cleaners, paper, cardstock, colored craft foam with sticky backing, playdough or clay (something sticks can be pushed into so they will stand and such), crayons and markers.

Cornstarch Fun - Did you know cornstarch and water, in the right amounts, will imitate liquid rock? It is really, really neat and kids of all ages love to play in it.
It is messy, but clean up isn't horrible if you do it outside.
For this activity you will need a tub of some kind, water, and cornstarch. A 16 oz box works for 2-3 people. You will need about a cup of water for every two cups of cornstarch (or so).
To begin, dump the cornstarch in the tub and feel the consistency before mixing in the water. Cornstarch feels like no other powder.
Next mix in the water slowly. Don't stir it with a spoon, mix it with your hands or let the children mix it.
Just let them feel it for a while and experiment with the mixture. It's pretty neat.
Do they notice how more pressure makes it hard and less makes it fluid?
Try slapping it. If you slap hard enough, it might crack.
Pick some up (itself a neat task) and roll into a ball. Then watch it melt as you stop rolling.
Let it slowly flow from hand to hand.
Roll it into a ball and then try bouncing it in the tub.
Drop in little men or plastic animals and then fish them out. Notice the resistance as you  push or pull through the mixture.
For clean up, rinse away or let it dry and brush off (for clothes, then wash like normal). Do not pour this down the drain when you are done. You run the risk of plugging the drain. Pour the mix into a baggie instead and then throw in the trash.
For the science behind this, see this page about Cornstarch Science.

Other Fun Toys
Hula Hoops

Walkie Talkies are great for hiking and for around camp.
GPS units are great for hiking and GeoCache adventures.

Night Time Fun
Glow Sticks
Musical Instruments for around the Campfire
A white sheet to hang between trees. Great for shadow fun.

Scavenger Hunts and similar activities are perfect for camping.

Play the Memory Game - This one is nice because it can be done anytime and no extra equipment needed. Set out an assortment of camping related items on a table. Let everyone look at them for a minute or two. Have everyone look away and then remove an item or maybe even a few. Can they guess what is missing? Change and increase the items to increase the difficulty.

Water Fun - Whether you camp by a lake or go to the beach, water is a great part of camping. These ideas are a mix of fun for the lake, the river, the beach, the pool, and back in camp as well.
Floaters, Pool noodles and Inflatable toys (ride-on or otherwise)
Boats, Rubber Duckies and other floating toys.
Beach Balls, Frisbee, Football, Volleyball
Bubbles, assorted bubble wands
Water Balloons and Sponges
Water Guns
Shovel and Pails, Matchbox Cars, Tonka Toys, Dishes, Animals and Army Men - I'm not sure there is anything as fun as mixing imaginary food, making little islands and streams in the sand, building bridges for cars and creating worlds for miniature animals and toy men. This can be fun at the beach but also right in camp if no beach is to be found.
A basket or a Rubbermaid tub with a hole in the bottom works great for beach/water toys. 
For at the campground, consider bringing a kiddie pool and/or a hose and sprinkler if there is water tap nearby. Share the sprinkler with the campground on a hot day and watch your children make lots of new friends.

Picnics - Bring along a Picnic Hamper or something similar for a picnic away from camp. Find a park with a playset, a nice eating area beside the lake or a grove to sit and enjoy nature. Even when you are already outside camping, there is something special about a picnic.

A Backpack - use it for short day excursions, hiking and for events and tourist attractions. It's a great way to carry waterbottles, keys, dry snacks, second set of clothes should your kids be at that age, and more.

Hiking poles and Ice grips - If you are doing any kind of hiking in high altitudes, or in the winter/early spring, you may want to consider hiking poles and ice grips (which slip over your boots and give you added traction on icy trails).

Beach Tub or bag for the beach - Keep it packed and repack it when you come home so you're always ready. Or, if you're like me and you don't care to have multiple sunscreens and other products open, keep a checklist in your bag so nothing is forgotten and give yourself a little time to pack up before leaving.
I suggest the following items:

Swimming suits and swim covers
Ziploc Baggies - For wet swimsuits when it's time to go home
Baby Powder - Sprinkle this on to remove sand quickly after the beach
SPF Chapstick
Zinc sticks
First Aid Kit - You don't need anything elaborate but a bandaid or two and some antiseptic cream is a good idea. Diaper cream is nice for sunburn relief. Afterbite or calamine lotion is also good to include. The last items I would recommend is some kind of pain relief for headaches, and ginger drops for upset stomachs.
Sunglasses - Keep more than one pair in this bag so everyone can use them outside
Hats - if not packed, make sure everyone has one
Water Bottles - At least one for each person. You might want to consider a good metal container. The idea of softening plastic in the hot sun isn't so hot.
Snacks - that can take the heat. Think nuts, pretzels, crackers. Or bring a small lunch container with an ice pack. This can save on trips to the snack counter.
Change and small bills - Even if you bring your own snacks, an ice cream or a frosty treat can be nice. You might also need some small change for parking meters.
Toys - see above, try and keep these together too
Swimming aids - arm floaters or thin swimming jackets
Books/Magazines/E-Reader- You can’t go to the beach without a good beach read. If you are bringing children, choose something that won't totally absorb your attention. Safety first, right?
Beach Towels
Beach blanket (or a sheet or an old sleeping bag) - something to sit on
Beach Umbrella
Trash Bag - for wet towels and the beach blanket (once shaken out) until you can get home.

Finally, add anything for motor activities like ski ropes, life jackets, watersuits, helmets and gloves.

So now you have all kinds of fun ideas for camping.
Print off the ultimate Camping List, add your own ideas and keep it for your next trip. Come back tomorrow for all kinds of scavenger and nature hunt ideas.

This is the sixth post in my Camping Series. For the previous posts, see these links.

Go Outside!

Camping Eats
Breakfast Wrap
Wrap Salads and More

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