After reserving the perfect campsite and packing the family vehicle with enough clothes, snacks and gear for what feels like the entire summer, the last thing that a parent wants to hear from a child on a family camping trip is, "I’m bored."
For parents, a camping trip is a chance to get away from the fast pace of daily routines: a chance to rest, relax and become one with nature. For kids, a camping trip is a chance to find a whole new routine – but likely not at a slower pace. How can you keep the kids happy without spoiling the adults’ experience?
Instead of bringing a cacophony of electronic entertainment into the pristine environs of nature, add a few well-thought-out craft supplies to the camping gear. Not only will the kids have something to do while you enjoy hammock time, but they’ll also be able to create some unique souvenirs of their wilderness adventures.
Ages: 3 to 12
Time: a few hours
Skills Required: painting, gluing and weaving
Materials to Bring from Home: paper, glue, scissors, yarn, crayons or markers, watercolors, paintbrush
Many of the materials needed for fun camp crafts can be readily found in nature. After setting up camp, head out on a scavenger hunt to find all the things needed to be creative: pinecones, interesting rocks, sticks, leaves, feathers, nuts, shells or dropped petals. (Leave live flowers and other foliage alone for others to enjoy.) Use this collection of interesting natural objects, along with the materials you brought from home, to create these fun camp crafts.
Decorate a Nature Journal
Bring along a spiral notebook from home and use leaves, feathers and flowers to make a collage cover for a nature journal. Objects can be glued onto the cover with white glue brought from home or maybe use a natural adhesive such as tree sap to make objects stick to the cover. If a spiral notebook isn’t available, just fold a few sheets of paper in half and staple at the fold to make a journal. After creating and decorating the journal, kids can record observations of things they have found in the wilderness, a diary of their adventures or maybe even some creative poetry or prose inspired by the beauty of their surroundings.
First search for some interesting rocks around the campsite or on hikes through the woods. Then, get out some watercolors from home and use the rocks as a canvas for a painting. Or, instead of painting a picture on the rocks, make some camp pets by painting the rocks to look like ladybugs, aliens or some other critter.
Make God’s Eyes
Also called Ojo de Dios (Spanish for "eye of God"), these talismans have many legends tied to them. In some parts of South America they are made for children on their birthday for a year of good luck. To make a God’s Eye:
1. Gather some yarn from home.
2. Find two sticks that are about the same size.
3. Tie the two sticks together so that they intersect in the middle to form an X.
4. Using the same piece of yarn used to connect the two sticks, and starting at the X’s intersection, wrap the yarn clockwise completely around the stick at the 3 o’clock position and then over the stick at 6 o’clock. Wrap the yarn completely around the stick at 6 o’clock and then under the stick at the 9 o’clock position. Wrap the yarn completely around the 9 o’clock stick and then over the stick at the 12 o’clock position.
5. Continue this pattern, always going under and around the sticks at 3 and 9 o’clock and always over and around the sticks at 6 and 12 o’clock.
6. When the pattern reaches close to the end of the sticks, wrap the yarn around one of the sticks several times and tie the end off with a knot.
Display camping photos in a stick frame.
Gather sticks or twigs and glue or tie them together in the shape of a frame. Add nuts, leaves, rocks or feathers for decoration. Snap a few photos while camping and add the photo to the frame at home.