Every year our family has a fun tradition of going camping indoors during the winter time. Jim & I aren’t the biggest campers, but we sure do enjoy it from the comfort of our own home. I originally got the idea of doing an indoor camping night from a speaker at BYU Education week, Shelley Wille, when I was in college. Once I got married and had a family of my own, this was one of the first traditions we started as a family.
Why do I love this tradition? Because my kids get over-the-moon excited about it.
The night before we went camping I made these fun wooden camp signs (out of cardboard) for decoration, and placed them up around the house.
We donned our camping bandannas, of course. Aren’t our little campers adorable?!
We began the camping night by going hunting, and then made a quick trip to the fishing hole to catch some fish for dinner. IE: Hunting – We shot some stuffed animals the kids had around the home with nerf guns Jackson got for his birthday, Fishing – We used a fishing net and went fishing behind a blue blanket for goldfish crackers. To keep things fun I put random toys in from our toy basket in first before they eventually caught their fish.
Here’s a fun video from that night. I really love seeing the pure joy on their sweet faces.
After catching our food we ate some yummy tin foil dinners. There are a lot of ways to make tin foil dinners. We enjoy wrapping seasoned potatoes, carrots, and ground meat in tin foil, and then placing it in the oven at 350 degrees for around 45-60 minutes. That’s it. Simple, delicious, and usually moist and soft. MMmmm. We used mason jars instead of cups, too, for a fun touch.
Next up? A fun hike, of course. We walked around downstairs, and then met up at the trail signs. Jackson is learning to read, and can recognize all three of the kid’s names. Lanie can recognize her name and her brothers’ based on the starting letter, so they both got a kick out of the trail names.
After hiking around the upstairs, down the halls, and jumping over rubber snakes I put in their paths, we finally made it to our campsite! Jim and I put up some vinyl glow-in-the-dark star and planet stickers we got from target up on the ceiling so we could go star gazing.
We decided to brush teeth and get in pj’s, and then we all met back in the kids’ room for fireside camp stories. We turned off the lights, went star gazing, and each person in the family took a turn holding a flashlight while we told a scary story. Since our kids are young we kept it pretty tame, but I was surprised by how much they loved this part. Jim and I both admitted that one of our favorite parts of the night was when Jackson told his story, in a low, serious, husky voice. “Once upon a time, there were 3 alligators at the zoo…” It was awesome.
It was getting pretty late, so we opted to let the kids skip dessert & just let them enjoy their night sleeping in the tent in their room. Jim & I, however, ended the night with some delicious homemade dutch oven cobbler. We dumped in a large can of peaches, then sprinkled a bag of yellow cake mix on top, and then a cube of butter on top of the cake mix. Put in the oven at 350 degrees for 25 – 30 minutes, or until the juice mixture is bubbly and the top of the cake mix topping is crusty and golden brown. MMmmm. Eat with vanilla ice cream, and it is one delicious treat.
There are a lot of great things you can do with this theme. While our family does this tradition as a fun family night, I can see how this could easily be made in to a birthday party theme.