Your summer plans are likely in a bit of disarray due to the COVID-19 pandemic. You may be rethinking plans to send your children to summer camp or your camps may be cancelled altogether. No need to worry! Check out these great ideas for an “Indoor Camping Trip”!
The first part of this adventure is to set up a tent. Move large pieces of furniture out of the way so you have a nice sized area to create your campsite. If you don’t have a real tent you can use sheets or blankets to make a canopy. You can get some great instruction for constructing temporary tents here https://www.wikihow.com/Create-an-Indoor-Tent If you have sleeping bags put them under the tent. Or you can pile up pillows and blankets. Anything comfortable.
Bonfires aren’t very transferable to indoor camping parties (unless you don’t mind burning your house down) but this is a really easy way to make a safe, indoor campfire using some old toilet paper rolls. Paint the tubes different shades of brown. You can make them look like wood with light colored stripes. Arrange them like a camp fire and tuck in some red, yellow and orange tissue paper. You can use some tissue shred as well. Cut red and yellow shiny card stock for flames. Pop a few LED candles in the middle. LED candles are battery powered and much, much safer than a real flame and won’t cause a fire if they’re knocked over. They shine pretty brightly too so you could create a bit of atmosphere by turning off the lights and eating in the light of your fake bonfire!
Stringing mini Christmas lights around the area can mimic a starry night sky. If you have some camp chairs bring them down from the attic and place them around the campfire. If your kids have large stuffed animals bring them to the party too. Place the creatures around the area to be your forest friends. Look for a CD of nature sounds and play that in the background. They can be found online or at Barnes & Noble. Also check a used book store. Grab a bunch of small flashlights for everyone to have. They will be great tools for storytelling and games. Stock up on some glow necklaces and bracelets for fun in the dark.
Now it is time to stock up on tasty camping food! An indoor camping party means you can really go to town on themed food! Think about all the things you’d eat if you were going on a real camping trip and simply recreate them! Here are a few ideas to get you started: Hot dogs or burgers. Sandwiches (peanut butter and jelly is my favorite!), one pot meals like stew or mac and cheese or any finger type food and/or trail mixes. And it wouldn’t be a real camping experience without Smores! You can easily make indoor smores and they literally take about 30 seconds and are so yummy! You can use standard ingredients, add peanut butter, use Nutella, or substitute a chocolate bar of your choice. Cut the graham cracker in half and add a big marshmallow on top- pop in micro for 15 seconds. Add your chocolate bar of choice and micro for 5-10 more seconds. Top with the other half of the graham cracker and voila! One little slice of heaven on a plate. Don’t forget breakfast treats the next morning. Pancakes and bacon – Yumm!
Hopefully you can convince your kids that you can have fun without the internet. Make a rule – NO PHONES – for this camping trip. Sit around your faux bonfire and sing camp songs. You can find the lyrics and guitar chords to some of the classics here https://www.countryfarm-lifestyles.com/camp-songs.html#.XvT8IyhKjIU If you are unsure of the melody check on YouTube beforehand. Make sure you print out the lyrics so no one is staring at a cell phone screen.
Play cards games. My favorite game to play on our yearly camping trip was Cribbage but if the kids are to young for this game there is always Uno, Fish or Old Maid. An unusual card game that the kids will adore is “Blind Man’s Bluff”. The standard version is simply high card wins. Each player is dealt one card from a standard deck and they display it to all other players (traditionally stuck to the forehead facing outwards- supposedly like an Indian feather). This is followed by a round of betting. Players attempt to guess if they have the highest card based on the distribution of visible cards and how other players are betting. Not to get cash involved, bet with jelly beans or candy bars. Art and craft projects are always fun and keep kids entertained. Rock painting has become very popular and people love leaving them in public places for others to find. Set up a craft table and find smooth river rocks. Have paint supplies handy for the rocks and maybe some other projects like popsicle stick frames and tin can pencil holders.
Next, I remember so well how scary stories around the campfire was the highlight of the night! A good resource for some of the most memorable stories is here https://www.bustle.com/articles/191893-10-spooky-campfire-stories-to-tell-your-friends-in-the-dark. Again, print them out so you keep the no phone rule. Reading a book to the group is another way to enjoy your campout. Chose some kid friendly books like Don’t Feed the Bear by Kathleen Doherty, Scaredy Squirrel Goes Camping by Melanie Watt or Mouse Scouts: Campout by Sarah Dillard. Maybe you can have an older child read to the little ones.
Now that you know how, lets get to camping! Stay safe and wash your hands!