Do you sometimes feel like you are living with a Screen Zombie?! According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, the recommended amount of “screen time” for kids 3-18 is just 2 hours a day. I don’t know any kids who follow those guidelines! At Camp Birch Knoll, we’ve seen the separation anxiety that can occur when kids are away from their devices. Luckily, we’ve got hundreds of fun and exciting ideas up our sleeves to keep them engaged and entertained for weeks! Since they can’t always be at camp, here are a few to use at home for a break from technology and some real family bonding.
#1 – Bake-Off!
A favorite activity of campers over the years is definitely a “Bake Off”. If you have a favorite cookie recipe, there is nothing kids like more than scooping, mixing and making a mess in the kitchen! For a quicker fix, buy pre-made sugar cookie dough and frosting from the store. Give each kid an equal amount of dough, a cookie sheet to work on, and a butter knife. Now, let the fun begin! Have them create one big cookie in any shape they want. **remember that cookie dough spreads, so don’t make the shapes too detailed. While the cookies bake, kids can color frosting in small bowls, and decide what kind of candy they want to use for decorating. (m&m’s, chocolate chips, sprinkles, etc.) Once they are finished, have some award ribbons ready for the best cookies…and of course, eat them!
#2 – Camp Out (or in)
Camp is all about being one with the great outdoors, but even more about bonding with friends! Nothing is better for that than a good old camp out. If you are fortunate to be living somewhere warm, get out your tent and set it up outside so you can sleep under the stars! Here in Wisconsin that wouldn’t be a good idea! Don’t fret, you can create a fun adventure indoors. You can get a pop up tent for a reasonable price these days, but if that’s not in the cards, kids love to build forts! Fill up your tent with comfy blankets, flashlights, and magazines. String up some Christmas lights for a more “glampy” feel! Camping would not be complete without s’mores…if you have an outdoor setup, roast those babies over the open flame! If you are indoors, a quick pop in the microwave will do the trick…watch out they puff up fast!
#3 – Room Makeover
We’ve had a lot of fun at camp getting our HGTV on! Cabin makeovers are one of our favorites, involving lots of creativity and craftiness. Give your child a chance to express their unique personal style with a room makeover challenge. It’s always fun to start of with a theme (outer space, safari, beach getaway) to get the creative juices flowing. Search around the house for possible decorations, or get out the scissors and construction paper to create your own!
#4 – Treasure Hunt!
This one might take a little more preparation, but it is one of our camp favorites! It is really fun for multiple kids or groups of friends. Split up individual kids or create small teams and tell them they have to come up with their own pirate names and outfits. If you want to take up more time, tell them they have to come up with a pirate chant or song! Beforehand you should have several clues ready to go and hidden around the house/yard. Make them tricky so there is something to figure out. Example: “Old Pirate Pete had a leg made of wood, his shipmates all knew he was up to no good, he jumped off the ship with all of the gold, and went to the place where we take clothes to fold”. I love coming up with these! Anyhow, they would find another clue there, which would lead them to another and eventually the treasure. Color coordinate the clues for each team, and set it up so they don’t go to the same clues in the same order. Chocolate coins, gold beads, and fake money make an excellent treasure!!
#5 – Smash Book
Since we know kids these days are obsessed with selfies, give them a place to showcase them! Smash books are basically scrapbooks for every day inspiration that don’t have to be planned out or perfect. There are tons of cool templates and embellishments at a craft store, but you can also use old magazines for the same effect. Send off some of their favorite pics to walgreens and have some actual prints made. Then have fun cutting and pasting pictures and magazine sayings to create a unique work of art. This is bound to be more memorable than swiping through selfies on a phone or facebook.
We hope you try some of these out at home during these long winter months. Stay tuned for more ideas from Camp Birch Knoll!!