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It's Time to Camp
By Sandy Fleming

It's Time to Camp!

May often marks the beginning of the camping season in many families. Whether you are a tent-camping crew, an RV group, or a backyard camp family, here are some fun activities and recipes to liven up any camp-out.

First of all, give everyone a job to help set up, maintain, and tear down the campsite. Shared responsibilities will help everyone take more ownership of the outing and have more fun. Setting up the tent, unpacking the car, hanging the clothesline, gathering wood, clearing the site, making the fire, setting up sleeping bags, cleaning up trash and dishes, and removing trash and rocks are all important jobs that usually need to be done at some point. Involving the children from the packing and planning point onward will help everyone feel they are contributing to the outing and hopefully become more involved.

After camp is set up, more energetic souls will enjoy a scavenger hunt. Try making a list of things that might be seen ahead of time. Give each player a pencil and have him or her mark off each item as it is spotted. A variant of this game is to play Nature Bingo. Just make a Bingo board and put the name or picture of a nature item in each space. See who can be first to get a BINGO!

Camp treats are loads of fun. Everyone has made the s'mores, so why not plan a new treat for this outing? Banana Boats are quick, easy and gooey treats that almost everyone loves. Simply slice a banana (in the skin) along the inside curve. Put squares of chocolate and mini-marshmallows in the cut. Wrap the banana in foil and bake in the coals for about 15 minutes. Be careful! This treat is very hot and will need to be eaten carefully with a spoon. If you're really feeling adventurous, you can bake a mini-cake in your fire! Simply cut the top off of an orange and scoop out the fruit. Fill the empty peel with cake batter (chocolate or white cake seem to work best). Wrap in foil and bake in the coals. You will end up with a slightly orange- flavored cake!

Camping can be a great family experience and grand fun for all ages. Keep everyone's developmental needs in mind and plan your outing to meet them, and you will be on your way to making some great family memories.

Sandy Fleming is an educator, author and workshop facilitator. She resides in southern Michigan with her husband and three daughters. Sandy leads workshops for daycare providers and parents in the region, tutors students, volunteers for Girl Scouts and her church, and teaches online classes for adults and children. She loves to make new friends, so please drop her an e-mail at


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