Activities to help young campers build an awareness of the environment, learn about insect and animal behavior, boost their self-esteem, and learn the basics for fun, successful camping.
About the Author
Laurie Carlson is the author of Colonial Kids, Westward Ho!, More Than Moccasins, and Green Thumbs. She has taught preschool, primary grades, and children’s art classes. She lives in Cheney, Washington.
Read an Excerpt
Activities for the Backyard or Wilderness
By Laurie Carlson, Judith Dammel
Chicago Review Press IncorporatedCopyright © 1995 Laurie Carlson and Judith Dammel
All rights reserved.
GET READY, GET SET ... PACK UP!
Clothes to Take
Take clothing that will keep you warm when it's cold, or cool when the day heats up. Weather that is sunny in the daytime can turn cold at night. Sunny weather can turn to rain or hail when a cloud blows in. It's important to take clothing that is practical rather than cute.
When you are deciding on clothing to take, think of clothes that you can "layer." Take a loose-fitting coat that can be worn over a T-shirt, sweatshirt, and sweater. When you dress this way, you can add a heavier shirt over the shirt you are wearing when it turns cooler instead of changing into a completely new shirt. You will be warmer when the weather turns really nippy.
Sit down and make a list of what clothing you will need. Start from the head and work down to the feet.
For your head you will need a hat with a brim to keep off the sun and to protect you from the heat. You will need a rainhat if your raincoat or poncho does not have one. You will need a winter hat, such as a knitted stocking hat, to wear at night or when it is cool. Wear it to bed to keep you toasty warm. It is important to keep your head covered when it's cold because you lose a great deal of body heat through your head.
It is a good idea to take a light shirt, such as a T-shirt, for those warm sunny days. If it is hot where you are camping, you should still wear a shirt to protect you from getting sunburned. To keep cool, you can dip the T-shirt in water and wear it wet.
You will need a long-sleeved shirt to put on over your T-shirt when you start to feel cool. A sweatshirt or flannel shirt is great. Over this you may want to layer a warm sweater or heavier sweatshirt. When the air turns really cool, you will want to wear your loose-fitting coat over these. This is probably enough to take for normal weather. In case of rain, you will want to take a rainhat, poncho, or raincoat.
Legs also need to be protected from the weather. A pair of shorts with pockets are handy for your journal, magnifying glass, pencil, and map. You can wear warm-ups over them, too. When the weather turns cold, a pair of long underwear underneath the sweatpants can warm up your legs. If the air is very cold, wear your long underwear, warm-ups, and another pair of pants over them.
You won't need to wear this much clothing often, but it's a good idea to be prepared. Be sure that your clothing is loose and comfortable. If the layers are squeezed too tightly the air will not circulate and you will not stay as warm. Jeans are not a good choice as they can become wet with the dew and rain. When denim material is wet your pants are heavy, cold, and tight on your legs. Denim also takes a long time to dry out. A loose pair of pants made out of wool or wool-blend would be perfect.
Hands and feet also need protection. Hands get cold, and a pair of mittens or gloves will do the job. Gloves are nice when you need to use all your fingers. If you don't need to use individual fingers, mittens will keep your hands warmer.
Feet are one of the most important parts of the body when you're hiking. Blisters caused by wet feet or poorly fitting shoes can keep you from enjoying the hike. Take enough pairs of socks to always have dry socks on your feet. It is a good idea to wear two pairs of stockings. A thin stocking to wear under heavy wool socks is ideal. Make sure there are no wrinkles or holes so that the socks fit comfortably.
Now, most important — shoes. Soft hiking boots are much better than hard leather ones. Hard leather boots take a long time — sometimes years — to break in, and, until they are comfortable, you will suffer from blisters. Soft hiking boots can often be worn right out of the store with no problem. When you go to buy new boots, bring the socks that you plan to wear, and try on the boots over those socks. The boots should not rub or pinch your feet. Walk around the store. Do your heels move up and down as you walk? If they do, then the boots are too big. Do your toes pinch as you walk? This means that the boots are too small or too tight across the toes. Have a knowledgeable salesperson help you with the fit.
If you don't have hiking boots, tennis shoes will usually do fine, unless you plan on hiking many miles over steep or rocky terrain. Make sure that your shoes fit well and that they don't have holes. If you can't fit two pairs of socks under them, pick out one pair of comfortable socks. The socks should not have any holes that could rub your skin. Take two pairs of shoes along. If one pair gets wet, it can dry while you wear the other pair.
Clothes to Make
The section before this one, "Clothes to Take," talks about choosing the proper clothing to take on your camping adventure. It's always important to be prepared for any type of weather or terrain. You would not want being cold or wet to get in the way of the world of fun that's waiting for you in nature.
You probably will have to buy or borrow most of the clothes that you take out into the great outdoors; however, here are a couple of suggestions for clothes you can create. These things are easy and fun to make, and you can tell your family and friends that you did it yourself.
Plastic tarp or vinyl shower curtain
Heavy-duty glue, or needle and thread
* Make a simple poncho to protect you from rain showers. Spread a plastic tarp or vinyl shower curtain out on the floor, and fold it in half. Lie on it with your arms spread out along the fold. Have a friend mark where your wrists are on the plastic.
Cut the poncho to make a square long enough to cover your arms. Cut a hole in the center just large enough to fit your neck through, and cut the front open. Use glue, or needle and thread, to attach Velcro pieces along the front opening.
Pair adult-sized wool socks
Needle and thread
* Turn a sock inside out and put it over your hand. Draw a "V" between your thumb and your index finger, leaving some space around your thumb for sewing. Cut along the line through both sides of the sock. Use your needle and thread to sew the cut edges together. Make small stitches to prevent it from unraveling. Repeat with the other sock. Turn right side out and wear!
Make Your Own Camp Gear
Camping out means you get to live a bit differently than you do at home, but you still need a comfortable place to sleep, dishes and storage containers for food, packs to carry stuff in, and first-aid supplies.
Plan ahead for your trip. Think about where you are going to camp. What will the weather be like? What activities do you plan to do? What things will you need? Make a list and sort out the items you plan to take. What will you borrow, buy, or make?
Before you pack, set aside some time to make some of your own gear. It's fun to put it together yourself. Here are some ideas for things you can make before you go, and they really work.
Make It with Jugs
You can make useful camping equipment easily with old plastic milk jugs. Try a bowl, plate, or funnel — or make up your own jug gear.
Plastic milk jugs
Scissors or craft knife
Try bottles of any size.
Make a cup.
Make a funnel.
Use it to fill containers.
Cut out a bowl or plate.
* Cut away the bottom of a plastic jug to make a lightweight, unbreakable camp bowl. Trim it shorter to make a plate, or a Frisbee-like toy to toss.
Trim the top part from a plastic bottle and make a funnel for fun at the beach. Use the bottom for a drinking glass.
2 thick blankets
15 large safety pins
* Lay one blanket flat on the floor. Lay the second blanket on top placing it slightly higher than the first so that 3 inches of the first blanket show at the bottom. Fold the top blanket in thirds. Pin down the free edge of the blanket with 4 safety pins.
Bring the bottom of the first blanket over the second blanket roll and pin with 3 safety pins.
Pin 2 blankets together like this.
Then, fold up the bottom and pin it in place.
Fold the free half of the bottom blanket over the bedroll and pin securely with 4 pins. Fold the bottom of the bedroll under and pin securely with 4 pins. You've made your own cozy place to sleep.
Fold the last part of the bottom blanket over and pin.
Fold down the bottom and pin.
Plenty of Ways to Pack
* Bring the leg bottoms of the jeans up to your shoulders and securely pin them to the back waistband of the jeans, using 4 pins on each leg. Pin the bottoms only to the back of the waistband and leave the front of the waistband free. The legs will form the straps of the pack. The waistband will be the opening of your pack.
Try on your pack wearing the belt under the pack and around your waist and the leg-straps. Have a friend draw a chalk line across the legs directly below your belt. Take the pack off and pin 4 safety pins across each leg-strap on the chalk lines. These pins will prevent your gear from falling into the leg-straps. You can stitch the pack with a needle and doubled thread instead of using the safety pins.
16 large safety pins, or heavy-duty needle and thread
Two 1-foot cotton cords
* Fold the towel in thirds. Fold back the top flap and stitch the sides to make a pocket. As you stitch, poke the ends of the cord inside the seam at the top and bottom of the pocket. Do the same thing on the other side of the pocket. Slip your arms through the cords, and you're ready to go.
Fold the towel in thirds.
Stitch the sides catching the cords in the seam. Sew it again to reinforce the stitching.
Slide it onto your shoulders.
Sew the pillowcase opening shut.
* Sew a sturdy seam, using small stitches, across the pillowcase's opening. Sew another seam right next to the first one to reinforce it. Cut the rope into eight 1-foot pieces. Sew 1 piece to each of the 4 corners of the sack. Measure the exact center of the sack, and mark it with chalk. Cut an opening in the center large enough to fit your head through. You will also use this opening to pack your gear into the pack. Put the pack on, and adjust it evenly front and back. Measure 4 inches down from each armpit front and back. Pin a safety pin at all four points. Sew a rope to the pack at each safety-pin marker. Remove the pins.
8-foot heavy cord or lightweight rope
Needle and thread
4 safety pins
* Use the can opener to punch a small hole in one side of the can, near the top edge. Turn the can halfway around and make another hole directly across from the first.
Cut off the twisted top part of the hanger. Use your pliers to grab below the part of the hanger you want to take off, and twist until it comes off. Discard this part. Straighten the rest of the hanger. Thread one end of the hanger through one of the holes and twist the end so that it holds securely. Take the other end of the hanger and put it through the other hole and twist.
If you make tin can totes out of different sizes of cans, you can stack them inside each other while traveling to and from camp. These cans will make it easy to carry water, berries, snacks, or materials you collect while hiking.
Tin Can Totes
Wire coat hangers
Punch-type can opener
Pliers (with grown-up help)
Terrific Tote Bag
11 newspaper sheets
Three 30-gallon plastic garbage bags
Wide transparent shipping tape
Two 2-foot ropes
* Fold a newspaper sheet in half with the long ends together. Fold it in half four times to make a long strip Wi inches wide. Tape the strip at each end and in the middle so that it won't come unfolded. Fold and tape 10 more strips.
Lay 7 strips side by side. Weave 4 strips into the middle of these 7 strips. Weave the first strip under, over, under — repeat the pattern. Weave the second strip going over, under, over — repeating. Weave the strips to form the bottom of the basket.
Cut each bag into a continuous strip measuring about 3 inches wide. Weave the garbage bag strips around the newspaper strips. As you weave, hold the newspaper strips upright to form the sides. Each time you have made a complete circle, weave 2 strips together. Do this double weave at a different place each time. Every time you have completed 3 rounds, gently push down with your fingers as you pull the newspaper strip up. This will keep the sides straight and the weave tight.
When you are near the end of a garbage bag strip, add a new one. Weave the old and new together around 6 strips. Drop the old one and continue weaving with the new one. When you reach the end of the newspaper strips, it is time to finish the basket.
Trim all the strips evenly around the basket. Cut a 7-inch strip of tape. Place the middle of the strip against the top of the basket having 3½ inches extending down the sides on the inside and outside of the basket. Press firmly. This will keep the basket from unraveling. Repeat all the way around the top until it is all taped.
Poke a hole into the basket about 1 Vi inches down from the edge, through the tape and the weaving. Poke the same kind of hole 2 inches along the edge. Insert one of the ropes into these holes and tie into a sturdy knot. This will form one of the handles. Repeat on the opposite side of the basket for the other handle.
Fill the empty mesh bag with food that you want to keep cool. This cooler is good for unopened cartons of milk, juice, pop, sealed puddings, or any food in an unopened sealed container. Don't use food that can be ruined in water.
Tie the rope around the opening of the bag with a tight knot to close the bag. Lay the filled bag in a lake, stream, or river where the water will cover it completely. Tie the other end of the rope to a strong, sturdy branch or rock on the shore. When you need food from the cooler, pull the rope and cooler onto the shore, untie the knot, and remove the food you need. Then retie the knot and put the rest back into the water.
Plastic mesh produce bag (the kind onions, apples, and
grapefruit are sold in)
Comfy Camp Cushion
Vinyl: Two 16-by-l6-inch pieces (you can use a shower curtain)
Yarn and yarn needle
* Place the 2 pieces of vinyl together with the wrong sides facing each other. Punch holes through both pieces at the same time. Make the holes about one inch apart along the edges of the vinyl. Use the yarn and needle to sew 3 sides together with a whip stitch (see the illustration). Tear newspaper into strips and stuff into cushion case. Use as much newspaper as you need to achieve the amount of cushioning you want. Continue stitching around the last side with the yarn. Tie off with a tight knot and enjoy your comfy camp cushion.
Tie off with a tight knot.
A journal is useful when you want to write about your hike, draw pictures of the insects or flowers you see, or just write poems or stories that come to you while you are surrounded by nature. This little book will fit in your pocket or backpack, and you will never lose your pencil!
Fold several sheets of paper in half.
Cut along the crease.
Stack the pages and fold them in the center. Stitch them together along the center.
Punch a hole in the book and tie on a pencil with some yarn.
3 or 4 sheets of typing paper
Decorative paper for a cover: colored paper, shopping bag, gift
wrap, or wallpaper
Heavy-duty needle and thread (or stapler)
12 inches of yarn
* Fold the sheets of typing paper in half. Unfold them and cut along the crease. Take one of these pieces and put it on top of the decorative paper you have selected for your cover. Trace around it and cut out the cover paper so that it's the same size as the inside pages. Stack the papers together on top of the cover. Fold it in half and crease. Staple or stitch the pages and cover together along the center fold.
Punch a hole in the book and tie on a short pencil with the piece of yarn.
Bar of soap
* Before you go on your trip, work a hole in a bar of soap with a large nail. Tie a long loop of cord through the hole. When you get to your campsite, you can hang it from a tree branch between uses at the washing tub. Shaving cream is a great substitute for bar soap or shampoo when you're camping — it's more fun, too!
Always wash from buckets or plastic jugs of water, and never let your soap get into the stream or lake — it might harm fish and plants.
Work a hole in the soap with a nail.
Tie a length of cord through the soap.
Excerpted from Kids Camp! by Laurie Carlson, Judith Dammel. Copyright © 1995 Laurie Carlson and Judith Dammel. Excerpted by permission of Chicago Review Press Incorporated.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
ContentsA NOTE TO GROWN-UP CAMPERS,
A NOTE TO KID CAMPERS,
GET READY, GET SET ... PACK UP!,
FUN & GAMES,
TAKE A HIKE,
TIME TO EAT!,