Time for a living room campout

  • Isaac and Ayla Lydick
    Isaac and Ayla Lydick

By Micah Leigh • Features Writer

Those lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer are a little bit crazier in 2020. With summer camps cancelled,
movie theaters closed, water parks and swimming pools perhaps not the wisest choice, this summer has been especially difficult when it comes to entertaining the kids. School is starting soon, but there is still time for a “staycation.”

Camping has always been a favorite family activity, but if you can’t get to your favorite campground right now, just pitch a tent in the living room. Affordable indoor/outdoor tents are readily available and easy to set up. If you don’t want to go shopping, just build a fort with items you have on hand.

Get the kids involved here. You will need sheets, lightweight blankets, clothespins, safety pins or twine. Drape the sheets over sofas or chairs and secure with pins and let the kids use their imagination. It can be as simple as an awning, or as elaborate as a castle with separate rooms. Don’t be afraid to move the furniture around. You can always  put it back later. This is a time to cut loose and have fun.

Decorate your fort with pillows, blankets, even small sleeping bags depending on the age of the kids. A campfire lantern will come in handy as you turn off the lights in the evening. A string of lightweight fairy lights twinkling overhead is the perfect touch to recreate the nighttime stars.

Now that you have your camp set up, you need camp food. Obviously, this is a time to relax any rules about eating in the living room. Put down a picnic blanket and dine on hot dogs, fresh fruit, chips and salsa, cheese and crackers or any other favorite food. Just make sure it is simple and easy, something you would serve if you were at a campground.

For dessert, s’mores might be the natural thing to think of, but too messy for inside. Try DIY ice cream instead. It’s easy enough for even the youngest child to make. No fancy equipment or expensive ice cream maker necessary.

1 quart size Ziploc bag
1 freezer size Ziploc bag
1 cup half and half (regular milk works but product will not be as creamy)
1 1/2 tablespoon vanilla
1 tablespoon sugar
1 1/4 cup salt

Pour half and half into the smaller bag then add vanilla and sugar. Squeeze out excess air and seal the bag securely. Fill the larger bag about half-full of ice. Add the salt. Insert the small bag into the large bag and put more ice on top. Seal the large bag. Shake vigorously for about 6 minutes. The bag will become extremely cold, so wear oven mitts, socks or gloves to protect your hands. When the mixture looks frozen, remove the small bag and rinse the outside, especially around the sealed edge to remove
any salt. Carefully open the bag making sure that any remaining salt on the outside of the bag doesn’t get into the mixture.

Eat your ice cream straight from the bag, or scoop it into a bowl and stir to smooth out the lumps. Top with your favorite sundae toppings such as cookies, sprinkles, caramel syrup or whipped cream then let
each person decorate their own sundae. Enjoy!

Dinner is done, sundaes are made and it’s time to settle down under the tent to enjoy a movie. With all
the wonderful streaming services available, there is surely something the whole family can agree upon. If it is safe to do so in your location, include grandparents or others who may be struggling with loneliness right now.

Make it BYOF – bring your own food – sit 6 feet apart, wear masks and wash hands often. With careful
planning, you can have a small but safe and fun family get together. And don’t be surprised to find the kids still asleep under the “stars” in the morning.