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Stay Camp

How to make a family day feel like a day at camp

Published Feb 03, 2017 • Last Updated 03:02 pm, February 03, 2017

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Whether or not your children are going to attend camp this summer, they’re probably going to have some slow days at home. You can turn those dull hours into something memorable and fun by creating your own versions of traditional camp activities with family members and friends. Here are a few suggestions for pastimes that can either be enjoyed separately or be combined into a full day and night of stay camp.
Arts and Crafts
You don’t need to raid the craft aisles to create a fun art project for your children. Many camp crafts can be re-created with items you may already have at home. If you’re unsure where to start, Pinterest is full of ideas.
A number of websites offer tutorials. DLTK’s Crafts for Kids ( has a wide variety of crafts, printables, worksheets, and more that are organized by theme.
Some camp favorites include pinecone bird feeders, pinwheels, friendship bracelets, sock puppets, and tie-dye T-shirts. A quick Google search of the craft you’re interested in will turn up not only directions but often YouTube tutorials as well.
If you’re not sure what to do for a craft, kids can always create masterpieces out of recycled materials. Use plastic bottles, cans, bottle caps, boxes, toilet-paper rolls, and more to make robots, buildings, fairy houses, or anything else little minds can dream up.
Nature Walk
The shoreline boasts many town and state parks with great hiking trails. (Visit for a comprehensive list of state-park trails, with descriptions and maps.) For extra fun, try a scavenger hunt. Kids can search for objects that start with the letters of the alphabet, or you can label a paper bag with some items to look for—pinecones, dandelions, acorns, shiny rocks, and more.
If you happen to spot any wildlife, use to identify it. The Connecticut Botanical Society ( offers a plant and flower identification tool on its website.
Rather than have the kids eat at the kitchen counter or in front of the TV, pack their lunchbox or a brown bag with a typical camp lunch, and then have them eat at a picnic table in the backyard or at a nearby park or beach. Be a little indulgent and let them have some chips, a juice box or other soft drink, and a packaged dessert.
Track and Field
Find a playground or park with an open area, and have your kids and their friends compete in relay races or traditional camp games, like Mother May I and Red Rover. (Many websites, including, offer suggestions for field-day activities.)
Instead of firing up the grill, have kids gather wood for a campfire. (For instructions, visit, and be sure there’s an adult supervising at all times.)
The kids can roast hot dogs—or, with a little more preparation, shish kabobs. (For more ideas, Google “campfire meals in foil.”) Finish with the classics: toasted marshmallows or s’mores.
To turn stay camp into an all-night adventure, sleep outside in your backyard. All you need is a tent and sleeping bags. Before bedtime, tell ghost stories or sing some old camp songs. (Googling “ghost stories” and “camp songs” will help if you’ve forgotten your childhood favorites.)

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