The Gear Doctor – September 2015

The Gear Doctor – Camping With Kidscamping4

 Camping can be the most enjoyable trip for kids, or it can be the most boring.  In this day of electronics, kids are always busy with something at home.  Rule #1: no electronics allowed on camping trips.  Getting to know nature and creating memories will stay with your child longer than playing video games.

Some fun activities include:

  1. Do It Yourself First Aid Kit: cartoon bandaids, bug towlettes, antiseptic wipes, calamine lotion, and gauze pads.  The Dollar store is a great place to get a themed zipper case and all the ingredients for the kit.  As your child puts the kit together,  teach him/her what each item is used for.
  1. Make your own bubbles:

To make your bubble mixture:

Dissolve the cornstarch in the water, stirring really well.  Then gently stir in the remaining ingredients.  Avoid creating a lot of froth.  Allow your mixture to sit for at least an hour, stirring occasionally if you see the cornstarch settling to the bottom.

To make your bubble wand:

 I used two drinking straws, and a length of yarn that was 6 to 8 times longer than the length of one straw.  Thread the yarn through the straws, tie a knot, and you’re good to go!

  1. Make papier mache:

Start with one cup water and one cup flour.  Mix together in a large flat bowl until smooth.  Tear 1” strips of newspaper and dip into mixture.  You can use plastic cups, blown up balloons, or things found in nature, such as pinecones as your base.  Place wet strips over the base and smooth out.  Continue layering strips until you have the desired thickness.  Allow to dry overnight.  Paint or decorate with leaves, twigs, and tiny pinecones, using plain white glue.  You’ll need to bring watercolors and brushes if you decide to paint it….cleanup is easy!

  1. Make your own trail mix. You’ll need ziplock bags, nuts, dried fruit, coconut, chocolate or butterscotch chips, pretzels, etc.  Let your child use a small cup to measure each ingredient and place into the bag.
  1. Look at trail maps close to the camping area. There may even be some right in the campground.  Take a hike to a fun destination such as a waterfall.  Don’t overdo or try to do too many miles in a day.  For a beginning hiker under 5, 2 miles round trip is plenty.  For an older child up to age 10, 3 or 4 miles is OK.  Have a daypack ready for your child, and have him/her fill it with trail mix, water bottle (a must!),  first aid kit and box juices.  Camera and binoculars are optional but fun.  If you see wildlife, these items will come in handy.  DO NOT approach wildlife or attempt to feed it.  Feel free to use a cell phone video setting to capture some live action.  Hiking will tire your child and they will sleep well at night!
  2. Don’t forget games: playing cards, jigsaw puzzles, yarn kits, and collecting jars for bugs and leaves.  When you get home, you can press leaves between wax paper and place between two towels.  Iron on low to melt the wax paper around the leaves, and your child has a lasting memory from the hike.  Remember to PLAY with your child on a camping trip, and you will all have an enjoyable, happy memory!

We are very pleased to have Anita Hudson Easton back on our writing staff as author of our monthly Gear Doctor.  Anita is a 30 year veteran of the Outdoor Industry and is an expert in the design, manufacturing, care and maintenance of outdoor gear!

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