I didn’t really want to throw a birthday party for Finn. I know: bad mom. I wanted to have a family gathering and do something special. Originally we were going to spend the day in Yellowstone because Finn had requested “geyser gazing.”
But Finn hasn’t had a birthday party with other kids and Henry thought that was important. Then Anders asked Finn who he wanted to invite to his party. So, I figured I’d better pull something together for Finn….and Henry.
Once I get something like this in my head I always take it to the next level. I tried to keep this one simple, but I kept getting great ideas. I had one week to prepare, so I didn’t do everything I wanted to, but I think it was fun anyway. I had a great time.
Here’s how you throw a camping-themed, somewhat eco-groovy party.
1. Book a location. We rented the pavilion at Pine Creek Campground. It’s 20 minutes from our house, in a campground, has a grill and fire ring, plenty of seating and provides good coverage from too much sun or rain. Turns out it rained a bit and we were glad for the roof. Like almost all Federal campgrounds etc., the pavilion can be reserved at recreation.gov
2. Make your own goody bags. I found scraps of material at the Community Closet and sewed the bags. After arguing with two different sewing machines I ended up sewing them by hand, which kept me up until two a.m. the night before the party. Not ideal. I need to learn how to use the sewing machine…
The goody bags had a Clif Kid Zbar, a 7 in 1 whistle, LED flashlight, compass, mirror & 5x magnifier, a polished rock and a sports key chain (picked up at the Community Closet with the help of Kerri). For more ideas, check out this summer camp packing list. She suggests a deck of cards, small games, and friendship bracelets — any of which would be perfect in these bags.
3. Play games that connect kids with nature. I spent too many years as an environmental educator to not play a few e.e. games. I don’t know that the kids tuned into the surroundings, but they had fun.
We started with a blind walk. Before the guests arrived, I strung string between trees and through the forest. They were to wear a blindfold and follow the string, paying close attention to how the forest felt, sounded and smelled. These kids were a not quite old enough. Most wouldn’t wear the blindfold, and they were so crammed together that they could only hear each other. Still, it was fun.
Next we played “Camouflage.” One kid stands in the trail, eyes covered and counts to 20. The other kids hide in a place where they can still see the counter’s head. Then the counter tries to find everyone without moving (he can turn in a circle to see all directions).
Our kids all hid together, so they were pretty easy to find. They loved playing it, though.
We also made leaf rubbings. The kids found a couple leaves, put them under a piece of paper and rubbed a crayon on top. Viola! An image of the leaf appears.
4. Have a campfire. Of course, you’re going to have a campfire.
5. Choose food that doesn’t require plates or flatware and tell guests to bring their own cups. We had veggie and hot dogs, chips, goldfish crackers, fruit on skewers and roasted marshmallows. We also brought glass jars of juice and beer. All the skewers went into the campfire.
I thought about making cupcakes, but I had an idea for a cake that I just couldn’t let go. So we used paper plates and plastic forks (I washed a reused the forks).
I’m glad everyone wanted a party for Finn. It turned out to be a lot of fun for me!