We have one family camping trip under our belts.  If I included the nights spent in a tent in the backyard, the number would be closer to twelve- a more impressive number.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a camping newbie.  Before the kids, we’d toss our clothing, toothbrushes and a tent into the car on a Friday night, drive north for two hours, and camp through the weekend.  With kids in tow, I’d suggest something less carefree.

My Camping with Kids Essential Plan

Camp Essentials, Activities, Menu

Camp Essentials

Camp Essentials

  • folding chairs
  • table top insect screens
  • tarp
  • tent
  • camp pots
  • camp stove
  • bucket (at least one)
  • dish towels
  • biodegradable soap
  • tin foil (the “heavy” stuff)
  • spatula (long handle)
  • tongues (long handle)
  • cutting board
  • mess kits (one per camper)
  • glow sticks (not for light, just for fun)
  • flash lights
  • gallons jugs of drinking water (one per camper)
  • sleeping bags and pillows
  • matches (store them in a tin or jar)
  • small broom
  • cooler
  • firewood
  • good bedtime books


We camp because it’s fun.  What’s more, taking kids out of their day-to-day environment can be step one toward expanding their sense of what is possible, and what they are capable of.

When I planned this camping trip for my elementary school aged kids, my goal was to provide activities that kids could do with little or no help from adults. Ideally, the time spent at camp should provide a safe environment where kids can be creative and learn to take calculated risks; what adults call “out-of-the-box” thinking.  All of the activities in this post require preparation.  Not because they are complex, because you want to give your kids the best chance to experience success.  If their success becomes confidence, what could be better than that?

Build a simple kite

Our kite design is the simple to build and easy to fly!
Things you’ll need:

  • Sail fabric (30″ x 20″)
  • 2 dowel rods, 1/8″ X 18″
  • packaging tape
  • scissors
  • kite string

>>Click here to download a measured template<<

To prepare, draw the pattern onto the cloth and cut the dowel. Once prepared, kids can build this kite without much help.

  1. Cut out the kite shape (see template).
  2. Make small holes where indicated, insert dowel rod.
  3. Fold 3/4 inch cloth over the end of the dowel (top and bottom). Tape to secure.
  4. Before cutting holes for the kite string, reinforce the area with packaging tape. Make small holes (indicated on template) and insert a 30″ piece of sting between the two holes; use knots and tape to secure the string.
  5. Using strips of packaging tape, attach a strip of sail cloth (approx. 2.5″ x 36″) at the bottom of each dowel -these are the kites tail, necessary for balance.
  6. Using a slip knot, attach a ball of kite string to the center of the 30″ string that spans the width of the kite.


Scavenger Hunt

A scavenger hunt takes just minutes to put together, and provides more than an hour of fun.  My boys wanted to hunt solo, but were eager to share the contents of their bags, along with their stories.
>>Click here to download my printable list<<



Giant bubbles







Things you’ll need:

bubble wand:

  • 2 dowel rods, 1/2″x15″
  • cotton rope, 40″ or more (I use “piping” available in fabric shops)
  • 2 eye hooks
  • 1 washer
    I drilled a small pilot hole in the ends of each of the dowels so that the kids could easily twist in the eye hooks.
    After attaching one eye hook to each of the 2 dowels, measure and cut the rope. Thread the rope, first, through each eye hook; lastly through the washer. Make a knot, creating a complete loop.

Giant Bubble soap:

  • 8 cup distilled water
  • 2/3 cup Polmolive dish soap
  • 3 Tbsp glycerin
  • large bucket
    Mix all ingredients, allow to rest at least 24 hours



Oatmeal Raisin Breakfast Cookie
The trouble with Breakfast Cookies is once you’ve said the word, “cookie”,  you’ve set the bar too high. While the recipe produced a soft, yummy, whole grain breakfast, in hindsight I would not have called it a cookie.

At first, I rejected this recipe, too many ingredients. I’m drawn to recipes with very few ingredients. Once I realized I could freeze half for future breakfasts or school lunches, preparing these “breakfast Bars” (as they will be named henceforth), seemed like time well spent.

  • 1 cup oat bran
  • 3/4 cup fruit juice


  • 1 cup plus 1 Tablespoon apple sauce
  • 2 Tablespoons cooking oil
  • 1 cup honey
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 1/2 Tablespoon vanilla


  • 3 cups whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1 Tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon baking soda


  • 1 cup nonfat dry milk
  • 2 1/2 cups quick oats
  • 1 cup nuts
  • 1 cup raisins
  • 1 cup ground flax seeds

Soak the oat bran in fruit juice for 10 minutes.
In a large bowl, combine the next 6 ingredients. In a separate bowl, whisk together; flour, baking powder and baking soda and combine with remaining ingredients.
Add to wet ingredients. Stir in oat bran/juice mixture.
Bake at 375º 12-14 minutes depending on size.

To make “Breakfast Bars”, I’ll shape large rectangles and slice after baking.

Eggs & Sausage
Breakfast sausage is simple to cook over a campfire, whether you use a pan or foil hobo pack. Eggs can be tricky. The easiest, most certain way is to hard boil them. Set a few eggs in the bottom of a pot. Cover the eggs with water. Bring to a boil, then cover and remove from heat. Leave covered for exactly 22 minutes.

Taco Salad
Families eat differently on vacation, that includes my family.  Of course there is a real food way to make a taco salad, but it wouldn’t be as much fun as this Boy Scout recipe.

  • snack size bags of Doritos
  • cooked, shredded, chicken (I packed prepared chicken, and stored it in the cooler)
  • lettuce, shredded
  • green pepper, diced
  • cheese, grated

Open the Doritos (one bag per serving).  Let the kids add the ingredients to their bag of Doritos. After adding chicken, lettuce, peppers, and cheese, fold over the open end of the bag to close/seal the bag. Let the kids crush and smash the bag.  Wear your, “Coolest Mom Ever” badge proudly.

Hobo pack Potatoes
Take the time to parboil the potatoes before roasting them in foil. (I boiled them at home and then kept them in the camp cooler)

Rough cut potatoes. Boil in salted water for 5-8 minutes depending on the size and type of potato. Drain parboiled potatoes in a colander. Allow surface moisture to evaporate, 1-3 minutes. Add olive oil and mix thoroughly. You want them to break up a little; it will help them to brown when roasted. (At this point in the recipe, I packed the potatoes for camp. They’ll be roasted over the fire)
To make hobo packs; use heavy foil. Add potatoes and fold the foil to seal. Over the fire, the potatoes will steam and brown.  Carefully open to check for color; you want them to brown, not burn.

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Tremendous quantities of food are wasted after production – discarded in processing, transport, supermarkets and kitchens – and this wasted food is also wasted water, finds a policy brief released Thursday at World Water Week in Stockholm.

Source: Environmental News Service. Read more…


In Michigan we don’t think about fresh water as a ration. Not until other States discuss siphoning off water from the Great Lakes. Reservoirs, dams and levies are not concerns here. Which is not to say we don’t care about our water, we do –now.

Michiganians have a shameful history of pollution. I explain it to my kids this way; “industry and people put things in the water that they didn’t want around. The water carried the bad stuff away. No one thought about where the bad stuff went.”

It seems that along with eliminating pollution in the water, we need to stop wasting precious water. We waste water in obvious ways; on our green lawns, during a long shower, and when we leave the tap open needlessly. But we waste water in less visible ways too.

Growing crops requires an enormous amount of water.  No one here is suggesting that you stop eating foods grown in soil. I’m suggesting only that we eat all we produce. When we throw away the food we buy, we toss out all the resources used to grow, ship and produce the food along with it.

Our British friends have created a web resource that addresses the need to reduce, or heck, lets set the bar high and say, eliminate food waste.
If like me, you are not British, some suggestions from Love Food, Hate Waste can be puzzling. Example; I have never had leftover bangers to deal with. And I think to “blitz”, means puree in a blender. Really, I like the site’s local lingo, it helps me feel part of a larger community. While written for the UK, the suggestions and recipes are completely doable here in midwest USA.


Why does water use matter?

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My kids are gearing up for Christmas.
“Mom, what is your favorite hoilday?”
“Thanksgiving, of course.”
Thanksgiving is a simple hoilday centered around being thankful and spending a day with people you love. What could be better? With the exception of day after shopping, Thanksgiving remains as it has always been, without commercial influence.

Now that only the bones of the Thanksgiving Day turkey remain, consider making home made stock.
A few vegetables and turkey bones are all you need. Use this Chicken Soup recipe to make Turkey Soup.

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