Camping Under Quarantine
If you want to take the kids camping, but parks and campgrounds are still closed — or if you just want to stick close to home this summer — you can still get a taste of the great outdoors and a camp experience. Just pick a day and turn off your cell phone. Camping isn’t just a good way to learn about nature, it’s a wonderful way to learn about each other.
Set Up the Camp Site
Indoors: Group end tables and chairs together into clusters to make imaginary cabins. Identify each cabin by giving it a color. Cover each cabin with a sheet of colored construction paper or hang a colored flag. Assign family members and friends to individual cabins.
Outdoors: Set up a few tents. If you don't have access to the real thing, drape sheets or blankets over a clothesline or some chairs. Every camp needs a campfire for stories, songs and snacks. Create a campfire by nailing or gluing three or four logs together. Insert strips of red foil or cellophane to resemble flames.
Create a Logo
Gather the entire group to choose a logo and mascot. For example, if you choose "Blake's Bears,” you could decorate the campground with stuffed bears. Hang logo signs around the tents.
To make tee shirts, provide each child with a white shirt. Purchase a box of fabric crayons. Make cardboard stencils of your chosen logo design. The children can trace this stencil using the fabric crayons on white, all-purpose paper. Color and fill in all the features. After the drawing is complete, the paper is placed face down on the tee shirt and pressed with an iron. The design will transfer to the shirt. Follow the box directions and be careful using letters and numbers; unless you mirror image, the letters these will transfer backwards.
Gather for Early Morning Orientation
Begin your camp morning with the sounding of reveille (recording or use a real trumpet). As your campers gather, prepare to raise a flag and sing your favorite song. Maybe continue with a sing-along of popular camp songs around the campfire. Research children's music books or gather recordings of these songs. Announce the schedule for the day – events such as projects, games, nature studies and eating at the "mess hall.”
Take a Nature Walk
A nature walk will serve two purposes; studying nature in its beauty and collecting objects that can be used in the craft projects. Do this in the form of a scavenger hunt. Pre-plan a list. Give the kids a bag and send them searching for each item around the grounds. The first group to finish the list with all the correct items wins the hunt.
Suggestions for the list:
Three or four different types of leaves
All types of rocks
Blades of grass
Painting: Using tempera, paint with leaves, flowers, sticks and rocks instead of a brush. This technique produces a natural expression on paper. Use colors of the forest, such as green, brown, orange and yellow. To make leaf transfers, brush paint onto the front side of a leaf. Press down onto paper. For a variation, use the bright colors of nature on a black construction paper background.
Pressed Flowers: Place a piece of wax paper on top of a paper towel. Take small flowers or petals and arrange these on the wax paper. Place another sheet of wax paper on top. Help the children press the arrangement with a medium hot iron; first seal the edges and then iron into the center. When this cools, cut the sealed craft into shapes. You can also use clear adhesive paper as another medium. Punch a hole at the top and thread with yarn for a hanger. Display these in a sunny window.
Rock Sculptures and Painting: Have your campers glue rocks (different sizes) one on top of the other creating designs. You will need to use heavy-duty glue or a glue gun. Paint the rocks using bright colors creating attractive patterns.
Camp Collage: Collect pictures and brochures of different campsites in the United States. Share these together and plan a real camping vacation for the family. Cut your favorite pictures and glue these collage-style onto a sheet of construction paper. This can be your vision board for a future trip.
Treasure Box: Any sturdy box with a lid will do. Take the lid and draw a simple picture or design on top. Fill in your design with a dried bean mosaic. Choose all kinds of beans, such as red kidney beans, white navy beans, black beans, green peas, etc. and glue these into place.
Write Letters “Home”
All campers are encouraged to write letters home to parents and loved ones. Have the kids write about the fun experiences at camp today. Seal the letters in envelopes and deliver these to family members at the close of the day.
Head to the Mess Hall
Drop by to pick up your lunch at the Mess Hall (kitchen). Pack your child's lunch in a shoebox on this special day. Tape the boxes shut and address them to your child, c/o "the camp's logo name". Pass out the boxes and eat lunch around the campfire, outdoors, in the cabins or tents. Maybe include a special treat in each box!
Recipes for Camp Treats
Make pretzel logs and decorate them for a yummy treat!
You will need:
1-cup chocolate chips (more or less according to the size of the group)
8-inch pretzel logs
Decorator candy sprinkles
Melt the chocolate chips in a bowl in the microwave. Dunk the pretzel rods halfway into the chocolate. Roll this end into a dish of sprinkles. When they are cool, these special logs can be packed into the camper's lunch boxes.
You will need:
1/2 stick butter
1 cup graham cracker crumbs
3/4 cup sweetened condensed milk
6 oz. chocolate chips
2 cups miniature marshmallows
Melt the butter in a baking pan in the oven. Remove the pan from the oven and sprinkle the graham cracker crumbs over the melted butter. Pour the condensed milk over the mixture. Add a layer of chocolate chips over the milk and then a layer of marshmallows. Bake in a 350-degree oven for about 30 minutes. Cool and then cut into squares. (An 8-inch square pan works well)
Touch Blue: This is a quick and fun game to play in an open space. Gather up all the campers. Have one person as the instructor. On command, ask the group to touch something blue on anybody they see. Quickly run through a variety of instructions, such as touch red, touch a white sneaker, touch a hair ribbon, touch buttons and so on. A great game to get the "giggles" going!
Animal Clues: Pin a picture of an animal on the back of each child. Have the children try to guess which animal is on their back by having the other campers give helpful clues. For example, if a bear picture is displayed:
He is very big.
He could be brown or black.
He lives in the woods.
He loves to eat honey.
Swim Without a Pool
This is a great creative movement activity. Gather your campers and have them do imaginary strokes to look like the breaststroke, freestyle, backstroke, butterfly and sidestroke. Line the groups up for a race. Call the strokes out and have each child go to a finish line (like a relay race). This is a good exercise workout for the campers.
Inspect the Bunks
At the close of the day, ask the campers to clean up their cabins and campgrounds. This is the time to put the furniture back to the original floor plan or clean the yard.
Close With a Ceremony
Preprint "certificates" by hand or computer. Award these to your campers for participating in a very special day.