Monday, June 3, 2013

Stay Camp (or something like it)

So we are inching into summer. I say inching because we had snow at the beginning of May and our first few days of June were pretty chilly. It seems as if the seasons are lagging just a bit behind this year. Kinda like me :<)

As we prepare for summer, I am making a list of some of our usual summer haunts (the fountain park, the park that has the free concerts, the botanical gardens....all free). In this season of life  "Free" (or almost free) is about all we can swing. Trust me. We could use a good weekend away to a location where nobody knows our name...with a hotel stay and the whole bit, but it's just not happening right now.

The "Staycation" has become quite popular in the past few years. We aren't the only folks in the country that has to watch every penny.

Instead of focusing on my favorite ideas for a "Staycation," I want to add a twist to the whole "adventure at home" phenomenon. A few years ago, I was bemoaning the fact that Josiah wasn't going to get to have a "camp" experience. Some of my best memories from childhood are from summer camp. And while he certainly gets to have plenty of adventures (we're homeschoolers...we make our own fun), I wanted to provide him (and a few others) with a good ole summer camp experience. Thus....Cousin Camp was born. For this particular post, I am going to refer to it as "Stay Camp." We aren't talking about Camping here...we are talking about a whole "Summer Camp" wonderland.

I want to give you a few ideas about how we go about it and what's involved. You can take any of my ideas an adapt them. If you want to read more about our Cousin Camp adventures, you can check out my posts labeled "cousin camp." (obviously ;<)

Josiah and cousin Maddie pose with the corn they just shucked. Who knew shucking corn would be such a hit?

In this case I chose to create a Cousin Camp. Josiah's cousins from my side of the family are closer in age. Plus, I knew that I could utilize my parents and their farm. It has now become the adventure of the year. I am planning also to have a little day camp a few days this summer with some local friends. It obviously won't be as complicated, but it will still be lots of fun! At least we're hoping it's fun :<) Think about friends who might need adventure or cousins that you might not get to see all the time.

Cooking School - Making Biscuits. Flour, Flour Everywhere!

As I mentioned above, I get to hold Cousin Camp at my parent's farm. They live just a little over an hour from me (way out in the country). They have been so excited to host the event and have really gotten  into the spirit of the whole thing. We choose to do camp from Monday-Friday. Because we are spread out over two states this gives opportunity for the kids' parents to get them to the farm and pick them up. You might be only able to create an overnight camp or weekend camp. I guarantee you it will be a hit! I will warn you. You might need to have your own private camp after it's all over. We're talking in the bed with chocolate and a book kind of camp.

Water Balloon fight on Water Day. This year's Water Day is going to involve boat races across the pond. I've also wised up. I'm going to buy lots of spray bottles at the dollar store. If they can fill their own spray bottles to get each other wet it will save us from having to fill a million water balloons.

I am a theme creator from way back. I can blame it on my time as a preschool and kindergarten teacher. I think in themes. Sometimes I get a little carried away, but it makes planning a lot easier. Our first camp was called "Down on the Farm." We used a farm theme (obviously) and did a lot of old fashioned things. Last year's theme was "Into the Wild." We used a jungle theme and culminated  the whole week by having a Survivor type challenge. This year our theme is "The Dig." We are doing a mining theme. Our activities are going to range from panning for gold to a treasure hunt using a metal detector. Think about things you might already have available to you and go from there. If you are stumped for themes check out a few preschool or early childhood sites to get some inspiration. This year's theme came about because my Dad was doing some work on their place and found the foundation to an old house. Are you kidding? What kind of treasures could be buried there? Then we have a friend who is a hobby geologist. He brought over all kinds of semi-precious stones. It grew from there.

This year the campers created their own instruments out of gourds. The gourds were in the barn just waiting for a creative touch.

We mix up our activities. If I had my druthers we would spend our time cooking, painting each other's fingernails and reading under the shade tree. But this is not my camp. Think about some things you know how to do already. Think about some things that you would like for the kids to experience. Here is a basic list of things we do. 

Making a cake during Cooking School. No cake mix allowed!

Cooking School (One of my favs)

Big Contest (this is some sort of boys/girls competition they do daily...last year they gathered rocks to put in the greenhouse. It was a big hit)

Scavenger Hunt!

Outdoor Adventures (This year we are having Cousin Camp Olympics, Panning for Gold, Treasure Hunt, Water Day, constructing a windmill and more...)

Our T-shirt project from last year. We were brave and used bleach.

Arts and Crafts (don't get carried away. Think about the ages you have and what you have We always decorate t-shirts that I find at the thrift store as one of our projects)

Pickin' and Grinnin'

Nighttime Fun (we always make smores a couple of nights, make music and light sparklers and play dominoes) This year we are also going to have a night we go stargazing)

You can see that those are pretty broad categories. It gives me lots of wiggle room.

Good planning is the most important part to guaranteeing a successful Stay Camp. I plan for a few months in advance (though the very first one I threw together in a few weeks). I make up a schedule. Everything from morning chores to brushing teeth to Cooking School is planned. Some of the activities are more ambitious than others. Here are a few things to consider when planning your own Stay Camp.

Our Camp Headquarters for "Down on the Farm." The kids help me decorate the board.

    A lunch Bento Box. I used leftovers. Yum!
  • I choose a camper or campers of the day. This individual is responsible for helping with dinner prep or basic "gopher" chores. They also feed the animals (pets inside the house). It is a big honor. I will tell you that generally the girls are more enthusiastic about being a camper of the day than the boys.
Weaving for Arts and Crafts

  • Plan your meals down to your snacks. Make it easy for yourself. My mom and I set out a "Breakfast Bar" every morning. We set out yogurt, fruit, granola bars, packets of instant oatmeal, mini-muffins, etc. For lunch I create "Bento Boxes." They are simply containers that have different compartments for food. I use leftovers from the night before or other food items. This helps with clean up and the kids generally are excited to open their "boxes." I already have fruit snacks and squeezable applesauce I found at a markdown grocery store ready this year. We also have a tea time before our quiet/free time every afternoon. This helps with the afternoon munchies. 
Tea Time! Very fancy!

  • We purchase new water bottles every year. I personalize them with a paint pen and everyone is responsible for keeping themselves hydrated. 
Another Day. Another Tea Time. This time we had fresh squeezed lemonade they made.

  • We also make or purchase small first aid kits. The kids keep them with their bags. We do a simple first aid demonstration at the beginning of the week. Most injuries on the farm are simple scratches from a bush or rock. 
Camp Headquarters from Last Year.

  • I make a big board that I update every day. It has camp rules, camper of the day, schedule, menu, etc The kids can refer to it. It eliminates a lot of "What's for supper?" 
Just Dance!

  • I plan a Quiet/Free time everyday. It gives everybody a little down time. I always have things available for this time. Puzzles, board games, video games (with a set time) and movies. I also make sure I get a little nap. I have my priorities :<)
It's not camp unless there are Smores!

  • We always make a list of the things the kiddos need to bring. I get pretty specific. Don't send your best dress to play in the field. The chances of an unhappy accident involving cow poo are likely.
Marbles during Free Time

I'll try and keep you updated with how this year's Cousin Camp adventure is progressing. I'm knee deep in my planning and searching for supplies right now. But for now..You can check out my Pinterest Boards I've created just for Cousin Camp. This is the one I created while planning last year's camp. Here are this year's inspirations.

I am linking this post up to the Summer Staycation TOS Crew Blog Hop!


1 comment:

  1. This sounds so fun! I wonder if my in-laws would let me host a Cousin Camp on their farm!? ;)

    I'm actually thinking of doing a "day camp" a few days this summer with the neighbors, so the chaos is organized when they come over.


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