3 Easy Activities for Campsite Fun

Guest post by Jennifer Bové

Camping is the ultimate kid-friendly excursion. Sure, it can be challenging to “unplug” your children, but once they’re outside, they’ll find themselves fascinated by nature’s ever-changing wonders. There is always something new to investigate.

Occasionally, though, even the most curious kid can get antsy hanging around the campsite. It’s handy to have an activity up your sleeve to keep your little explorer excited and engaged.

As you gear up for your first summer camping trip this year (join the Great American Backyard Campout!), keep in mind these easy craft and snack ideas to make the event even more fun.

Create a Sun Catcher

(Ages: 2-7)

Note: Really young kids probably won’t be able to actually construct the craft, but they can surely help gather the materials!

square_window_ornament3-(2)What You Need:

  • Nature objects found around camp (fern and other leaves, grass, and flower petals work well)
  • Clear contact paper
  • Tape
  • Scissors
  • Hole punch
  • Yarn

What You Do:

1. With your child, collect leaves, grass, flower petals, ferns and arrange them on the sticky side of a piece of clear contact paper.

2. Place a second sheet sticky-side down on top of the objects and press to seal.

3. Trim the edges to create a circle, diamond, or other shape.

4. Punch a hole in the top and use the yarn to hang your sun catcher from your tent or a tree branch. When you get home, hang it near a window so the sun shines through. What a perfect reminder of your child’s first camping trip!

Craft created by Michele Reyser, Photo by Nancy Ostertag

Build a Bug Jug

(Ages: 3 to 7)

boy_rolling_up_sleeping_bag_280x447_photolibrarycomWhat You Need:

  • Empty clear plastic bottle with lid*
  • Scissors
  • Duct tape
  • Scrap piece of window screen or tulle fabric
  • Natural items such as rocks, grass, or twigs
  • Sheet of newspaper

What You Do:

1. Grownups: Remove labels from bottle and use scissors to cut a 2 x 2-inch opening on one side.

2. Place natural items inside the bottle through the opening.

3. Cut screen or fabric to fit over the opening, overlapping it by about ¼-inch all the way around the edge.

4. Cut 4 strips of tape to secure the edges of the screen to the bottle, creating a “window.”

5. To catch bugs for your bottle, hold newspaper beneath branches, bushes, or grass clumps. Shake the vegetation gently. Watch for bugs to fall on the paper, then funnel them into the top of your bottle and replace the lid.

6. Place your jug in a shady spot so the bugs don’t overheat and observe their behavior up close. Which bugs crawl upward? Which ones hide under cover? Do certain bugs chase other bugs? Are any of the bugs nibbling on plants?

7. Before you head into your tent for the night, be sure to return the bugs safely to the wild where you found them.

* A clear plastic recycled water bottle is perfect for little hands to carry.

Make Snake Snacks

(Ages: 7 to 9)

What You Need:

  • 1 11-ounce can refrigerated breadstick dough
  • 1 teaspoon butter, melted
  • Cinnamon, parmesan cheese, or spices (optional)
  • 1 green stick about 3 feet long and 1/2 inch in diameter*
  • Campfire

What You Do:

1. Pull apart breadstick dough and roll pieces into long, thin snake shapes.

2. Carefully coil a dough “snake” around one end of the stick and pinch the ends so the snake doesn’t fall off the stick.

3. Rub snake with melted butter and sprinkle with cheese or spices.

4. Roast it over the campfire until brown and cooked through (3 to 4 minutes), then slip it off the stick, cool, and eat!

* The moisture content of a fresh, green stick means it won’t catch fire easily.

Stuck indoors? Have your kids visit Amtrak’s KidsDepot. Click on “Parks” or “Playground” and find fun online games that teach about nature and the outdoors.

Jennifer Bové, mom and former field biologist, is an award-winning contributor to Your Big Backyard®and the editor of three anthologies including Wild With Child: Adventures of Families in the Great Outdoors. Jennifer’s blog is filled with timely tips and family fun. Stop by for a visit atwww.bovesboots.blogspot.com.