This post is a throwback to a fun campout we had with the kids last summer! I wasn’t blogging regularly back then, but we had so much fun that I thought it was definitely worth sharing in honor of this week’s Disney Family #DisneyWeekend theme being back yard camp out! We made our campout a Wilderness Explorer theme, because not only do we love the movie Up (and let’s face it, ALL the Pixar movies), but I had the idea of adding a bit of learning to the experience by having the kids participate in different activities to earn Wilderness Explorer “badges” (stickers) just like Russel has in the movie!
First thing’s first: The Set-up.
The first thing I did was decide what our “activities” would be and how the kids would be earning badges.
Our badges were in the following categories:
Art (we found rocks in the backyard and painted them)
Archery (don’t worry, its Nerf – more on this later)
You can get creative here and do whatever you want for badges. If you decide to use ours, here is a PDF download of all the stickers (designed by my awesome hubby). All you need is Avery label paper #22807 (2in round labels) to print them on to (Or in a pinch, cut them out and use glue to add them to the sticker sheets). We also made a sticker sheet for the kids to place their stickers– er… badges on as they earned them (you can grab that here).
What I loved most about earning the badges is that it kept the kids involved in every step of the campout, which in turn gave us more time to spend together as a family. Instead of getting everything all set up ahead of time to be ready and waiting for them, they got to be a part of the process…starting with building the tent.
- Tent Building Badge – They earned this by cooperating as a team to successfully build a tent, sturdy enough for us all to sleep in for the night. We already have a large family tent, so Vince and I were familiar with exactly how it is to be set up. But if you’re not, take a moment to familiarize yourself with it and the instructions before turning your kids loose on it. We let my son (who was 10 at the time) take charge of the building–helping out where he asked us to–and gave our then 4-year-old daughter smaller (but still important) tasks such as sorting parts and connecting things.
- Arts and Crafts Badge – For this badge, we wanted to find something in nature and use it to create art. This could be anything from pressed leaf portraits to natural clay sculptures, depending on the time of year and where you live. My son was in to rock collecting so we decided to find some large rocks and paint them to make decorative garden stones.
- Archery Badge – This part was a lot of fun! For the record, neither my husband nor myself have any real archery expertise. But I remember it always being such a fun part of summer camp when I was a kid so we thought it would be cool to paint a large red target onto an old sheet and use Caleb’s big Nerf bow. We even dipped the tips of the dart in paint, using a different color for each person so we could see who got closest to the bullseye.
- Cooking and Campfire Safety Badges – Naturally, these two badges went hand in hand. We felt like this was a good opportunity to teach the kids about fire safety and the environment. It also gave them a chance to be a little independent and make their own dinner. The kids roasted hot dogs on skewers over the fire while I grilled corn and prepared my all time favorite side dish, elotes (Mexican corn). For dessert, we wanted to try something a little more exciting than s’mores (s’mores are a pretty regular occurrence in our house) so we made campfire cones. For campfire cones, you take a waffle ice cream cone and let the kids fill them with whatever they want. I put out sprinkles, different types of chocolate, graham crackers, diced fruit, marshmallows, and peanut butter. Then you wrap them completely in foil and cook them over the campfire. They’re delicious.
- Astronomy Badge– I didn’t actually get any pictures of this, but it was my favorite part of the entire camp out. After we cleaned up dinner, we all laid in the grass and looked up at the sky while Vince (my husband’s a big astronomy geek) told the kids all about planets and constellations and even pointed out a few with his laser pointer. The kids loved thinking about the universe and wondering “what’s out there” and I loved hearing them share their thoughts. It was a perfect wind down right before bedtime.
And then we called it a night! We retired to the tent and after the full afternoon we’d had, we were all asleep in no time. In the morning, we gave the kids their final badge…the “Camping Expert” badge.
If any of you are planning your own backyard campout, I’d love to hear about it! Be sure to follow and tag @erikaenchanted_ when posting to social media so I can see your pictures!