I don’t camp. I’ve had enough sleeping on the ground in the Army to be O.K. with not sleeping on the ground for fun. Of course, because I’m not a camping fan, I’ve been blessed with a little boy that loves camping. We’ve taken him twice in his life and it is all he talks about. Dirt, fires, marshmallows… it’s boy heaven! To appease my three now four year old (Insert sob here. Still not admitting he’s that old), we planned a camping themed party for him this year. Well, to be truthful, I told Bubba the $300 Bounce House was out and asked what he would love to do for his birthday instead. His answer of course, camping.
I planned for a typical Denver morning in November and decided to convert our unfinished basement into a campsite. Surprisingly, this was an easy task that cost me about $20 in decorations. First, I laid a bunch of old moving blankets on the ground and set up our tent with sleeping bags inside. I used cardboard boxes to wrap any pipes or metal we had and drew on the cardboard to make it look like tree trunks. Green plastic table clothes became foliage and a barrier from the furnace and water heater.
Finally, I laid a blue tarp in the corner for our “lake” and hung cardboard stars and Christmas lights for our sky. It turned out so well I think I’m going to leave it up so we can camp all winter long.
I tried to think of easy games for a range of ages since we had friends coming with siblings. When all the kids arrived, I took them on a “bear hunt” around our cul-de-sac and finished the hunt in the basement where they fed a cardboard bear some “fish” (mini-packets of Swedish Fish). We played musical “rocks” and told bear stories in the tent before finishing off game-time with races outside.
The weather cooperated for hot dogs and mac-n-cheese served picnic style on the front lawn and at the end of the party we roasted marshmallows in our driveway on a borrowed a fire pit. Twenty (Yep, twenty. I’m crazy.) happy preschoolers left with paper bags of trail mix and plastic baggies of s’mores for the road.
I’m happy that Bubba had a blast, no-one made fun of my horribly disproportionate bear, and we combined kids and fire without calling the E.R. Also doesn’t hurt that the two hour party only cost me about $100 including the food for over thirty attendees. Guess we’ll keep having parties at home until I run out ideas for things you can make out of cardboard. P.S. Hope you enjoy the last picture. Yes, that is a tiny rubber duckie floating in the lake and no laughing at the bear!