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Campy Ideas: A Sensational Springtime Adventure For The Whole Family

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By mia bolaris-forget

Though there is something sensational and enticing about every season, by now most of us likely have cabin fever and are eager to spread our wings and fly (outside); and for many part of the outdoor life means packing up the gear and the family and setting up camp.
Camping is a fun, easy, and relatively inexpensive way to get away and can even if close to home or even in your own backyard.
1. Steps to take before stepping out: Make a checklist of all the equipment you'll need including items you may not have thought of such as: hats, sunscreen, jackets or long-sleeved tops and even hiking shoes in case you want to further explore the great outdoors. And don't forget supportive infant gear, if you're bringing "little ones" along. You'll also need plenty of water, energy snacks and make sure to provide older children with their own kid-sized packs and gear that will teach them about independence and confidence. You may also want to let them have say in choosing the location and the activities.

2. Do you homework on the best and safest location: Contact with local, state, and national parks inquiring about camp grounds and safety issues and well as area activities including hiking trails, nature paths etc. Don't forget to ask about picnic areas, restrooms, and locations of visitors' centers along the way.. You'll also want to find out about local area beaches, lakes, and other great sites to see and explore.

3. Map it out ahead of time: Stock up on maps and field guides to help guide you and to give older kids a navigational challenge including the opportunity to use a compass or name certain stars and constellations (for older kids) and naming colours, shapes, animals, etc found in nature (for younger ones). Use this opportunity to teach kids about respecting nature and the great outdoors and about a "leave no trace" policy so that it stays just as beautiful as you found it....even if it is only in your own backyard.
Fun for the whole family: Some GREAT before dark activities for the great outdoors.

Squirrel Tag: Assign one person as the squirrel catcher and the rest as just squirrels assigned to a tree or a lawn chair. When the squirrel catcher yells "Squirrels scramble", everyone (but the catcher) makes a mad dash for another tree without being "caught" or tagged. If you are tagged you become the new squirrel catcher.

Bucket brigade: Divvy up the family in teams and give each a pitcher (or small cup) of water. On the cue of "Go", each team races to transfer the water into a bucket or kiddie pool. Usually everyone winds up soaking wet and cooled off from the sweltering summer heat.

Hop and crawl: Use your yard supplies to create an imaginative obstacle course. Encourage kids to run the course by jumping over the garden hose or army-crawling under the patio table; running a lap around the house or the yard and hopping through a hula hoop.

Dance-a-thon: A new twist on musical chairs....this game allows one family member to be the dance leader, starting up the music an inciting others to dance by tapping them one by one. As you are tapped, you have to get your boogie on until the dance leader shouts "Dance Over"...when everyone has to make a mad dash for their seats. The last one to sit becomes the new dance leader.

Catch the bunny: Pass a small stuffed animal (or a small rubber ball) around a circle. After a few seconds introduce a beach ball (the farmer) who is anxious to catch the bunny. If you're holding on to the bunny when the farmer catches up to you, you are out of the game. For extra fun, allow the bunny to travel the circle in only one direction, but the farmer to go in any direction he pleases.

Great eats for the great outdoors:

Berry delicious coolers: Brew up some refreshing strawberry lemonade. In a blender puree 2 cups of frozen strawberries. Pour into a pitcher and add 2 cups lemon juice and 2 cups water sweetening to taste with simple sugar (create by mixing equal parts sugar and water to a saucepan and bringing slowly to a boil, stirring until dissolved and allowing to cool).

Great outdoor grilled nachos: Scoop a handful of nachos onto a sheet of aluminum foil and ask kids to add their favourite bean, along with diced tomatoes, avocado, chopped black olives, salsa and grated cheddar. Fold in the corners of the foil to make a pouch; and place on the edges of the grill for about 10 minutes or until cheese is melted...yummy.

S'mores on a stick: Heat up your favourite chocilate suace and pour into a shallow bowl or place. Place crushed graham crackers on another plate or dish. Next roast marshmallows (on a stick) and dip first into chocolate and then into crushed crackers.

Great outdoors grilled cheese: Make some grilled cheese sandwiches and frozen shoestring fries. Now slice the sandwiches in half and stand them up lengthwise on place allowing them to lean into each other forming a "tent" and securing with toothpicks at each end. Add a drop of ketchup near the sandwiches and stack the fries on top making a pile for the campfire....then add another dollop of ketchup.

Backyard banana splits: Mix together 1/3 cup light brown sugar and 2 Tbsp butter stirring until crumbly; then adding 1 cup granola mix and setting aside. Next slice bananas lengthwise, leaving skin on but being careful NOT to slice all the way through.. Place of tin foil sheets and stuff with premade granola mix. Wrap stuffed bananas (in foil) and roast on grill for 10 to 15 minutes or bake in oven at 350 degrees for 15 minutes. Serve with a scoop of vanilla yogurt.

After-Hours Fun: Games best played after dark

Ghost in the graveyard: This version of tag with a hauntingly fun twist is fun for the whole family. Assign one person to hide somewhere in the backyard or on the property while everyone else patiently waits at a chosen location such as on the patio or front porch...and counts "one o'clock"; "two o'clock", etc. Once you get to 12 o'clock someone shouts "Midnight!!! I hope I don't see a ghost tonight" and then everyone goes "hunting" for the ghost. Whoever spots the designated ghost first shouts out "Ghost in the graveyard" sending everyone running back to base without getting tagged. Those who get tagged join the ghost in the graveyard and the game begins again until everyone is tagged and the "graveyard" is full.

Flashlight finders: This game is a quest for adventure. A prize is hidden in the yard or on the property. Kids armed with just flashlights set out to find it. You can help by saying it's getting lighter when they are close or its getting darker when they have veered off course.
Grab the spotlight: This game is especially popular with little ones. Flash a light onto a tree, the grass, or other object in the yard and encourage your toddler or youngster to catch it. When he or she does, pick another location for the spotlight.

Belt one out: Sit around a campfire and start a family sing-along. Consider tunes from your camping days with your mom and dad or find some new lyrics on Bussongs.com. You can always use this time to show old photos and share some stories (with your kids) from your adventures from the past....no music or singing ability is required.

Long Island Travel & Leisure Articles > Campy Ideas: A Sensational Springtime Adventure For The Whole Family

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