A Guide to Indoor Camping

by Michael Kline

Guide to Indoor CampingIt is cold outside. As I write this, my online weather center is telling me that the temperature is a balmy 4 degrees, with a wind chill of minus 17. And I am not alone. National Public Radio is reporting on people around the country adapting to this wintry blast with glee. Just reported were: 1) People blowing bubbles outside, and gathering them as they freeze before hitting the ground. 2) Folks cracking eggs on cement sidewalks, then picking them up – totally intact and as hard as a rock. 3) The staff at Lincoln Park Zoo in Chicago actually keeping their polar bear indoors, as it has not had the steady diet of whale and seal blubber to keep it insulated.

Snow days can be trying on a parent, especially if those days run in sets of two or more. Kids are – for the most part – very mobile little creatures. I understand that this is nothing new to you the reader, but to attempt to contain something with the energy output of the average 7-year-old for more than even a couple of hours is, ummm, problematic. And this is where your creativity is put to the test. Perhaps I can offer some respite.

The next time you’re staring down the barrel of a snowflake-induced “holiday,” why not try something that I (as a parent and a child) became very adept at? Camping in.

Yes, it’s like camping out, but actually much more convenient. First gather up a lot of blankets, then pull most of the pillows off the beds (pillows make great and easily adjustable boulders). Drag a couple of dining room chairs into your new “outdoor” area, then turn them with their backs facing each other, maybe a couple of feet apart. Drape the blankets over them to form the tent, and christen the space LR Base One (LR for Living Room of course).

Pull the cushions from the couch to create tunnels or caves to go exploring through, and don’t forget the ubiquitous cardboard box which can be covered with pillows and blankets for a guaranteed “rugged” look. Remind your youthful campers that TVs are not for outdoors, and have them load their backpacks with pencils, papers, and crayons to record their adventures, or even illustrate and label a map of their new found digs. It might also be fun to track down some sounds of nature (CD or streaming) and pipe some Tarzan-esque noises through the camping space, as in the Kookaburra (click the link for a very boisterous one). If there are some green plants in the house, move them into the area of the campground for a truly immersive experience.

If you’re really into it, gather some stuffed animals and have the kids position them randomly around the room, with little regard to those animals’ natural habitats and locations of course. (To wit: Purple dinosaurs, Furbys, and Hello Kittys are not native to the Congo.)

Don’t forget to have your temporarily-indoor brood prepare some nourishment for their camping excursion as well. One can only survive the living room for so long without proper victuals and refreshments. A flashlight or LED lantern will serve the darker corners of the campground, even during the day, and don’t be too quick to disassemble LR Base One as evening approaches; an overnight stay at the new campground could be just as much fun. And, if I’m any kind of a student of weather forecasting (or educational guessing as it is often known), the climate outside may require the use of the camping “equipment” for more than 24 hours.

However you go about it, have the kids help, use your imagination (maybe even a little role-playing with you as the park ranger), and remember to have fun on your indoor camping “excursion.”

Now, where did I put my bubble blower? I think it just got colder.

Teach. Learn. Enjoy!

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