Down Time: Have a Living Room Camp Out

3/31/10 - By Stephanie Ogozalek

We mostly write about things to do, trying to keep you posted on all the amazing activities and events out there for kids. But sometimes it's great to just put the world on hold and do nothing, too. Not everything we do has to be elaborate; our family loves to just schedule something once a month that we can look forward to and doesn't involve anything much except being together.

We invite you to give it a try. If you do, you can log onto our facebook page and post photos of your family enjoying your time together; share the highlights and any suggestions you have from your family's experience. Why not start this week with a living room campout?


Down Time: An Indoor Camping Trip
Bring the excitement of camping home. Camping inside is a fun and simple way to unplug and reconnect with your family and have a great time, plus, you get indoor plumbing and you don’t have to sit in traffic on the George Washington bridge to get out of town.

To create a fun camping trip indoors takes minimal planning in these 3 categories: Fun, Family and Food.

Turn off the lights and use a flashlight all night. There is no electricity on a camping trip so don’t use any tonight:  no computer, TV or phone. Give the kids glow sticks to play with. Tell ghost stories, play board games, sing songs around your "camp fire", go on a snipe hunt – or whatever you would do on a camping trip.


Recreate a typical camping meal in your apartment; make hot dogs, cocoa and s’mores or whatever you like to eat while camping.  The only time we ever eat hotdogs is when we go camping, so that is what we are going to have.  Eat them on the floor picnic style (you can put a sheet down to catch crumbs) or if you have camp chairs haul them out of the closet and sit on them.

What is a camping trip without s’mores, if you have a fire place toast your marshmallows on a real fire, if not, you can easily make them in the oven:

1.    turn the oven to broil
2.    Place ½ a sheet of graham cracker per person on a cookie sheet
3.    Top each graham cracker w/ an equal size piece of chocolate
4.    Top the chocolate with a marshmallow.
5.    Place the cookie sheet in the oven.
6.    Don’t walk away - these will cook in a very short amount of time – so watch them.
7.    Remove from oven and put a second ½ sheet of graham cracker on top sandwich-style.  Press down to melt the chocolate. 

Pitch a tent in your living room, get on your jammies and climb in.  If you have a dome tent you don't need to stake it down.  Do all the fun stuff you would normally do on a camping trip in your tent.  We like to make finger shadows on the tent wall with a flashlight, play card games, sing and read stories.  (and go to sleep early!)

If you don’t have a tent, camp out on the floor in sleeping bags or with blankets and pillows.

Go all out:
Have camping gear? Use it.  Pull out the mess kits and the canteens for the night.  It just adds to the fun.

Kids love anything that breaks up the routine and this will be very magical for them. My son suggested we go fishing in the bathtub, not a bad idea, but I am not going to do it.  But you could try it and tell us how it goes.