Cool activities are found by kids on their own, but sometimes they run out of ideas, usually by the second day. They don’t want to throw sticks or Ninja-climb trees, or one of them doesn’t anyway, so they all don’t. And just when you’re prepping the food for the Dutch oven you get your very favorite kid coming up behind you asking what can they do, they’re bored.
At this point it’s tempting to gaze with astonishment at the beautiful woody surroundings and then make them go get water, but your kids want to enjoy the weekend as much as you, so here’s some cool things for your campsite kids to try instead:
“Cook” a hot dog without fire using a potato chip can!
Supplies— 1. A potato chip can (Pringles or the like) 2. A thin stick or wire the thickness of a wire coat hanger 2″ longer than the length of the potato-chip can 3. A pre-cooked hot dog
Directions— Get a handy dude or dudette in the campsite to punch a hole in the middle of the top of the can, and the middle of the bottom of the can, that the stick will fit through. Push the stick through the hot dog, Insert one end of the stick through the bottom inside the can, and then insert the stick through the hole in the can’s cap and snap the lid onto the can top. Make sure about an inch is sticking through both ends. Then place the can in direct sunlight for about twenty minutes. In the mean time you can get the kids to get their hot dog buns ready, if they want the full experience. After about twenty minutes, get the kids to remove the hot dog from the can and Hey, Presto! There’s lunch, hot and ready for the bun.
This has to be the easiest of all games to set up at the campsite. Find a clear area. Draw a big bulls eye with concentric circles inside while the kids go get their favorite pine-cone (or rock or stick). About three to ten feet away from the bulls eye, depending on the age and ability of the kids, draw a line for them to stand at. Declare a point level for each circle–50 points for the center circle, and less as you move outwards. First one to 100 (or 500) wins a prize. (This is where those little dollar store items you have stashed in the bottom of your backpack comes in handy). The cool thing about this is you’re left alone to do what you want for a little while.
Make a swing
Tie a rope from the top of a sturdy branch. Knot the rope at regular intervals for them to hold on to, and then tie another short piece of branch at the bottom for them to sit on. Let them swing to their hearts’ content.
Make finger paints and impress even the grown-ups
Supplies– 1. A roll of freezer paper (cheaper than finger paint paper and has many uses at a campsite) 2. Finger paint recipe (see below, after supplies list) 3. A medium-sized saucepan 4. Four or five small plastic or paper cups (you can toss the paper cups in the fire after all is done.) 5. Garbage bags to turn into paint smocks (how to is in directions below) or be ready to send the kids swimming.
Finger Paint Recipe–3 tbsp. sugar, 1/2 cup cornstarch, 2 cups cold water, different colors of food coloring, a little dish detergent. In a medium saucepan, mix sugar and cornstarch over low heat. Add the water and continue stirring until mixture is thick. Remove from heat and divide into plastic or paper cups; let cool a little. Add a different color to each cup, along with about a 1/4 tsp. dish detergent to each portion. (soap flakes work just as well.) Stir in and let cool completely. Only takes a few minutes.
Directions–For each child, take a garbage bag and cut a hole in the middle of the seam end for their head to go through, then a hole on either side for their arms. Pop it on and it should keep the majority of the food coloring, if not on the paper, then at least off their clothes.
You can now unroll the freezer paper at a convenient table, or even on a tarp laid out on the ground. Use the shiny side up for painting on. When they’re done you can let it dry and then roll it up carefully to take home. Why? Because then you can frame the best of it for their rooms at home as a memory of their camping trip. You can also cut out an 8″ X 10″ square and paste it in a scrap book.
Got a table they can play at? Make play dough.
You can get a couple of great recipes here.
Make bubble-blowing liquid at the campsite
1 cup Joy (or Dawn) liquid dish washing detergent
2 cups warm water
3-4 tbsp. glycerine (available at most drugstores)
1 tsp. sugar
4-cup container to put it in, plus a straw each or other bubble blower, such as a six-pack plastic can holder or other ring shaped item (make sure the container has a lid so you can store the remainder without spilling.)
Mix all ingredients gently together in the four-cup container. The easiest thing to do is give each child a small plastic cup half full of the bubble-blow liquid and a straw, and let them go to!
Send them on a nature scavenger hunt
Supplies– 1. Construction paper different colors (12 different colors, or two each of 6 different colors) 2. White ice cube tray
Directions– Cut a small square or rectangle of each color construction paper. Place a piece of paper in each cup of the ice cube tray. Then send the kids out to find something from nature that most closely matches the color in each cup.
Scout around first to make sure they don’t accidentally pick stinging nettles, poison ivy or other aggressive flora or fauna.
When they get back, you can ooh and aah over their finds. Reward them with a treat–make their own s’mores or toast marshmallows.
Create A Leaf Scrapbook
Go to the dollar store and get one a scrapbook and some glue and tape. Have the kids collect as many different leaves as they can and come back and glue or tape them in, one or two leaves per page. This is something they can do the whole camp trip. Write details below the leaf–where found, what day, what they think of the leaf. When you get back, you might even spend some time with them and try to identify as many as you can!
And finally, this was too cool to keep under wraps: